Increasing Volunteer Participation
All volunteer event planners have been there, they spend weeks planning the perfect experience, only to get 10 people to sign-up when they were hoping for 50. Not only is this a huge disappointment in terms of employee engagement, but it also drives far less impact to the nonprofit that needs support!
Our team works day in and day out to support volunteer coordinators in increasing volunteer participation and ensuring that each volunteer experience is a success. For the experiences to be a success, we spend a lot of time focused on maximizing impact and participation. Building a culture of volunteering takes time and effort, but it’s specific actions that start building the culture you want.
What are some of our learnings from focusing on increasing volunteer participation for the last four years? Well, we thought we’d share with you today so you too can maximize engagement and impact!
- Pick something your employees care about! You’d be shocked how many companies plan a volunteer event without determining if it’s supporting a cause that aligns with employee interest or the company’s mission. We always encourage looking at your corporate mission and supporting causes that align with that mission. Most companies with established CSR teams are experts at this but survey your employees if you’re still building your program. Ask them where they want to spend their time volunteering. You’re going to get more participation if people are excited!
- Think about timing! How many people want to get away from their desks at month or quarter-end? Is it better to do something in the morning or late afternoon during happy hour? It will be different for each company based on their culture, but by choosing a time that is easier for employees to attend, you’re going to have better participation!
- Can you pair it with a team meeting? We always encourage volunteer events during full-company meetings. Whether the meeting is in-person or during a virtual off-site, by fitting in 1-2 hours to volunteer, you’ll get all participants involved. Not to mention, it’s a great break from a day of meetings and brainstorming sessions!
- Meet employees where they are. With the flexible work structure most companies have, it’s important to offer solutions so that employees can take part regardless if they’re in the office, at home, or working from an Airbnb in Costa Rica (jealous!).
- Have volunteer promoters within different divisions of the company. If your company is large, there’s no way you can do this all by yourself. Recruit the 10 most engaged employees across the company, make them promoters of volunteering, and give them goals for employee engagement across events for the year.
During the Event Planning Process:
During the event planning process, our focus is to ensure repeat volunteers sign-up and capture new volunteers that will turn into repeat volunteers!
- Start promoting early and require sign-ups early! There’s no need to wait to gather sign-ups until a month before the event. We always like to encourage early sign-ups with a $1 donation to the nonprofit the event is supporting!
- Promote within your team weekly newsletter.
- Put an invite in your email banner that displays only to internal contacts.
- Pin a post within your channel.
- As posts can get lost, have multiple touchpoints in your registration process.
- Have leaders promote it. Is your C-Suite active in volunteering or do they have goals around retention? If so, get them to be active promoters of volunteer experiences. Who doesn’t open an email from the CEO? Even better, have them mention it at the next company-wide meeting and/or post it on their LinkedIn.
- Consistent reminders are key. Promoting it via email once will help, but do you know what’s better? Weekly emails, weekly slack messages, meeting announcements, adding it to email signatures. People need a lot of subtle reminders to take action!
- Incentives! Nothing encourages people to get involved more than incentives. Whether it’s making it a part of their annual goals or just providing free lunch during the event, every little bit counts!
- Put a registration deadline date to create a sense of urgency.
Want to learn more about increasing volunteer participation and dive deeper into the thoughts and ideas above? Check out our WeHero learn video where we interview two of our expert event managers on their tips and tricks for maximizing volunteer participation and engagement.
Here’s to more participation and more impact!
What are we missing?! What else has your company done that has proven to be helpful in increasing volunteer participation? We’d love to hear from you! Ready to start planning your next volunteer event, but need help with the initiatives listed here? We’re here to help. Contact us, today!