Home » The Holidays Are Over: Here’s How to Keep Your Seasonal Support Coming Back
During a season most often associated with companionship and abundance, many well-intentioned individuals want to share with those who need a bit extra. But for some nonprofits, volunteer engagement wanes by spring, and filling shifts becomes increasingly challenging.
So, how do you turn those once-a-year volunteers into long-term participants?
How to Engage Your Seasonal Supporters:
Here are some of our top tips to make the most of the seasonal rush, connect with your volunteers, and keep them coming back!
Volunteerism increases 50% between the months of November and December.
So what motivates volunteers during the holiday season, in particular?
The end of the year and the holiday season is a time for reflection; many holiday volunteers are motivated by their values during this time. Plus, the altruistic propensity of religious congregations, particularly during the holidays, leads many members to partake in volunteering during this time of year. Not to mention, volunteering is a meaningful way to keep families busy during school vacations.
To keep your holiday volunteers coming back, you’ll need to understand the factors that motivate volunteers year-round.
Most volunteers are motivated by these evidence-based factors. When these motivating factors are acknowledged and supported, volunteers are more likely to stick around:
Consider these core volunteer motivations to create informed opportunities that keep your volunteers motivated beyond the holiday season. For example, to appeal to your socially motivated volunteers, encourage them to bring their friends and make it easy for teams to get involved. Happy, motivated volunteers become your life-long supporters!
Volunteers may not return because you haven’t asked them. One of the simplest and most effective ways to retain your seasonal and episodic volunteers is to ask!
There are many ways you can invite your volunteers to get involved again. Here are some of our top tips for composing a successful ask:
A call to action (or “CTA”) is a short sentence that asks the reader to take an action. Most people encounter CTAs daily, whether they’re asked to buy a product, read on, or sign up to volunteer!
Your nonprofit can employ the powerful call to action to inspire seasonal volunteers to participate again.
What should you ask volunteers?
Think about the action you want supporters to take. You may ask them to check out your volunteer opportunities page. Or you may want to ask them to sign up to volunteer.
A successful CTA provokes a sense of urgency. Typically, you’ll want to ask readers to take the action immediately (while they’re inspired).
Where should you include a call to action?
Include a CTA wherever you’re promoting your volunteer opportunities: on your volunteer website, social media channels, community bulletin board, or in your newsletter!
How do you write a call to action?
Keep your CTA short, snappy, and engaging. Let your audience know what you want them to do and when in a brief sentence or two. Use the examples below to help you write your next CTA.
Call to Action Examples:
Just because a volunteer only participates once a year doesn’t mean they’re not interested in your organization the rest of the year.
Reintroduce episodic volunteers to your organization by creating an email marketing campaign. Your campaign should include a series of emails to re-engage holiday volunteers. For example:
Email 1: Thank holiday volunteers for their participation. Then, briefly remind volunteers that you need their support throughout the year.
Email 2: Announce exciting upcoming events, programs, and initiatives over the next few months. Encourage readers to browse your volunteer opportunities page.
Email 3: Send a list of upcoming volunteer opportunities. Include a compelling call to action asking volunteers to register.
You don’t want to bombard your supporters with too many emails at once. Instead, leave enough time—at least two weeks—between each email.
Of course, having the right tools is paramount to creating effective campaigns that inspire lasting engagement. Leverage your email marketing tool, like CRM or volunteer management software to:
Bonus: Use this email template to kick off your email marketing campaign to seasonal volunteers.
Hi [Volunteer’s Name],
You’ve shared your time and talents with us this holiday season, and we’re so grateful for your contributions to [organization’s name] and our vision of [organization’s initiative]. I’m reaching out to share upcoming volunteer opportunities I thought you’d be interested in.
Volunteers like you are how [organization’s name] is able to make a difference in the lives of those we serve.
Here are two upcoming opportunities that align with your interests and skills. Take a look and let me know what questions you have.
[Opportunity #1- share the name of the program and the link to sign up]
[Opportunity #2- share the name of the program and the link to sign up]
Are you interested in scheduling another volunteer opportunity? Here’s a list of exciting volunteer opportunities [link to your volunteer opportunities page]. We’ve made it easy for you to select days, times, and opportunities that work best for you.
Thanks again for supporting [your organization’s name]. I’d love to see you again at one of our programs. Let’s be a part of the good in our community together!
Let your supporters know you’re creating change every day by developing a social media strategy. Post calls for volunteers on your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram profiles. You’ll also need to maintain a social media presence throughout the year by posting a variety of engaging content.
It’s the holidays at your nonprofit: the event calendar is full, the board is pushing to meet donation goals, and volunteer leaders are working tirelessly to manage the influx of participation. In other words, there’s too much to be done in too little time. So, many volunteer programs fill their seasonal volunteer roles ad-hoc with little focus on retention.
However, directing efforts toward volunteer retention can actually improve a program’s return on investment. Formulate a winning retention strategy with these tips:
Volunteer satisfaction is one of the most significant factors in motivating volunteers to return. If you want your volunteers to come back, you need to foster a positive experience over the holidays and beyond. In part, this means making getting involved simple and painless.
A simple registration process or painless check-in system isn’t what your volunteers will remember for years to come. Yet a well-organized operation means volunteers can more readily connect with your cause without being distracted by the nonprofit nitty-gritty. So, supporters will remember (and treasure) the feelings of giving back, the abundant smiles, and the change-making — and they’ll continually look toward your organization to lead the way!
A volunteer management system can streamline the volunteer journey, from sign-up to logging hours, so it’s easy for volunteers to get involved again and again. Some volunteer management software options also allow volunteers to self-schedule, reducing administrative back-and-forth, and empowering volunteers to manage their own shifts. A self-scheduling tool goes a long way in easing scheduling frustrations, improving the volunteering experience, and accommodating more volunteers.
When you match a volunteer to the activity they are passionate about, interested in, and able to do successfully, they are more likely to feel satisfied with their experience, and to continue to contribute towards your mission.
After the holidays are over, keep volunteers interested in your organization by offering even more opportunities they’ll love.
Matching your volunteers with the opportunity that’s right for them requires a system for collecting data on each volunteers’ interests and skills.
How do volunteer leaders record every volunteers’ skills and interests?
The best way to track volunteer skills and interests is to collect this information when the volunteer registers with your organization. You’ll need a system for collecting and storing this data, as well as a strategy for matching volunteers with a program or opportunity.
A volunteer management system streamlines volunteer matching, ensuring each participant is paired with the proper role. Users can store personalized information on causes and programs they’re passionate about, as well as skills and digital documentation that proves they’re qualified for the job. What’s more, a robust system can automatically recommend opportunities based on volunteer preferences (that’s a lot of administrative time saved).
Occasional volunteers become long-term supporters when they develop a deep sense of connection with your cause. A great way to foster a connection with your holiday volunteers is to be present. Make sure your organization’s staff visit volunteers and thank them in person for their work. While you have their attention, talk about your cause and what it means to you to have volunteers like them there.
Continue to thank your volunteers throughout the year—not just after the holiday season. Volunteers will feel like your organization is made of people who care about the community you share.
Author: Annelise Ferry
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