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Communicating with Volunteers: Actionable Advice

Since volunteers are a major asset of any nonprofit organization, building a productive relationship with them is always on the agenda. To do that, it's imperative to streamline communication.

Communicating with volunteers is key to ensuring their success with your organization. Knowing how to do that can improve volunteer engagement, satisfaction, and retention. High-quality communication can also boost productivity and turn volunteers into donors.

Let's take a closer look at the best ways to communicate with volunteers.

Benefits of Volunteer Communication

Transparent and technology-backed communication is integral to exchanging information on time and helping volunteers and volunteer leaders achieve mutual goals.

  • Higher volunteer engagement – excellent communication is vital to encouraging information sharing between the members of the organization and other volunteers. When volunteers are in the loop, they demonstrate higher engagement. Engaged volunteers are more productive and satisfied with their experience.
  • Improved productivity – high-quality communication makes it easy for volunteers to understand their goals, responsibilities, and deadlines. Volunteers who get sufficient information about expectations and objectives are more likely to be productive.
  • Better volunteer retention – putting an emphasis on communication can help you foster better volunteer relationships, which in turn makes these people feel valued and more satisfied. Such feelings contribute to higher retention rates.
  • Opportunities for donorship - when you communicate goals, mission, objectives, and plans to the volunteers, you are creating a foundation for turning them into donors. Studies show that 67% of volunteers donate to the organizations they volunteer for.
  • Trust and loyalty – transparent communication can help your organization build volunteer trust and loyalty by showing them your genuine interest in their work, goals, and plans while sharing the organization's values.

Communication is an integral part of successful volunteer management. By building a robust volunteer communication plan, the organization can achieve its volunteer-related goals faster and more effectively.

How Volunteer Communication Works

To reap all the benefits of communicating with volunteers, you need to create a communication plan that includes:

  • Communication guidelines
  • People responsible for communication
  • Communication tools (including automated communication options)
  • Leader training for communication with volunteer

While communication may seem straightforward at first, it's easy to miss important details. Communication delays or lack of clarity could hinder volunteer work, or worse, lead to conflicts within the organization. 

Volunteer leaders should know exactly how to arrange seamless communication and have the right tools to do it. You may need to arrange communication training (e.g., communication webinars) to help them improve their management skills.

For ideas and insights, you can look over at the competition to find out how charities communicate with volunteers and what tools they use to arrange seamless communication. 

Best Ways to Communicate with Volunteers

The importance of communication becomes apparent when you face complex volunteer projects. Your leaders can implement these best practices to streamline volunteer communication and achieve the best management results.

Learn More About Your Volunteers

Just as with employees and customers, getting to know your volunteers is an essential part of excellent communication, trust-building, loyalty, and engagement. Even though these people are with you temporarily, they deserve a diligent approach to making them feel welcome.

The easiest way to learn about volunteers is to ask them to fill out a form before they start working. Then you can arrange a short interview with each person to find out why they want to give their time to your organization and how they feel about the cause.

You can also communicate with volunteer training specialists and ask them for their feedback during the onboarding process. 

The more you know about your volunteers' thoughts, feelings, and goals, the easier it is to arrange effective communication.

Communicate In-Person

While volunteer leaders and managers are often pressed for time, online communication doesn't always achieve top results. While it's important to optimize communication by using the most efficient tools, nothing can replace personal interactions.

Find the time to speak to volunteers personally and make sure they know you are available. These people should always know whom to contact in case they have a question or a problem.

Always Be Straightforward 

If you have something to ask or share, make sure to do it as clearly as possible. Volunteers should have a full understanding of their responsibilities and goals. If you fail to communicate these in the beginning, you could have serious problems down the road. A small misunderstanding could turn into damage, botched events, unhappy clients, and much more.

Always make sure that the volunteer understands your communication. Simply ask them to confirm.

Provide Knowledge

Give volunteers a source of knowledge to turn to when they don't have time or opportunity to contact their leader. This can save the entire organization a significant amount of time while making volunteers feel empowered.

You can create a simple Q&A section on your website and provide helpful materials that list responsibilities and tell the volunteer about your organization.   

Ask for Feedback

If you want to streamline volunteer communications, ask volunteers what they think about it. A small survey or a questionnaire can provide valuable insight into volunteer experience with your organization.

In addition, you can host group meetings with volunteers and ask for their feedback related to volunteer leadership, project management, and anything else that they may have an opinion about. This information can carry significant value for further volunteering arrangements.

Thank the Team

Communicating with volunteers isn't just about giving them tasks or coordinating activities. It's also about showing appreciation and recognition. Use your communication tools to thank volunteers for their work.

If you have the resources and the time, you can work out a volunteer recognition program that celebrates volunteer accomplishments during their time with the organization.

Improving Volunteer Communication

The right approach to communicating with volunteers can make a significant difference in your volunteer-powered projects. Excellent communication drives engagement, improves retention, boosts productivity, and turns volunteers into donors.

Galaxy Digital provides a number of effective solutions to help you streamline volunteer communication and improve your organization's bottom line. To find out more, please book a free demo today.

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