Home » Your Lapsed Volunteers: Here’s How to Get Them Back
A lot of organizations are having similar issues: many volunteers who were once consistent still haven’t returned to programming since March 2020. Organizations like yours can benefit from thinking about your volunteer re-engagement strategy. You may need to remind your lapsed supporters that you’re still out there and need their help! We’re here to help you inspire your volunteers to take action, even if it has been awhile. Let’s explore some strategies for re-engaging your volunteers with your cause.
Read how Willamalane Parks and Recreation District engaged their volunteers during COVID-19.
Some of your volunteers will be ready to participate in your in-person opportunities while others may need some time and reassurance. So, your first step for drawing your lapsed volunteers back in is to reestablish regular communication once again, while being sensitive to their various sentiments.
Volunteers are more likely to re-engage with your organization when they feel:
One of the best ways to re-engage lapsed volunteers is to reach out via email, especially with changing regulations. We don’t recommend you overwhelm your volunteers with all this information in one email. Instead, consider composing an email drip campaign or regular newsletter. We have created a recommended email sequence to inspire re-engagement efforts:
Email 1: “Welcome Back!”
We recommend you start with an introductory (or re-introductory) email when resuming programming. Welcome your volunteers again and thank them for their continued support.
Let them know that you’re back up and running and you need their help. Bear in mind that some of your volunteers may not be ready to commit to regular in-person opportunities. Help your volunteers feel safe by communicating your newly implemented safety measures and infrastructure.
Overall, we recommend that you keep the tone of your first email outreach both gentle and reassuring.
Email 2: “Check Out Our Exciting Volunteer Opportunities!”
Once you have re-welcomed your volunteers, highlight brand new opportunities in an email and direct volunteers to your opportunities page on your website. Do you plan to update your activities? If so, let your volunteers know!
For your in-person opportunities, we recommend you include a link to information about your organization’s updated social distancing policies. End your email with a call to action, inspiring volunteers to visit your opportunities page and sign-up (don’t forget the link!).
Email 3: “Here’s How We’re Moving Forward”
Finally, we recommend you communicate major program updates and changes, such as:
The pandemic has had a profound effect on the way many community-based organizations operate. By acknowledging these changes, you can help your volunteers feel involved in the direction of your program. Your communication with your volunteers should be reassuring in tone, and we recommend you end these emails with an acknowledgment of your community’s continued support.
Text messaging is an inexpensive way to reach your volunteers with a bit more urgency. Keep your texts short and enthusiastic in tone, and include a call-to-action. Here are some examples of texts to re-engage your volunteers:
Social media is a powerful engagement tool, and there’s no better time to compose a re-engagement strategy than now. Need some content inspiration? Try these posts:
It’s important to stick with it and keep posting quality material. Your fans and followers are more likely to notice the organizations with an active online presence. Don’t worry, we have resources available to help you craft a social media strategy:
Social Media Resources for Volunteer Coordinators
You likely made changes to your website over the last year and a half. So, in order to re-engage your lapsed volunteers, you’ll want to get your site up to speed. Here are some ways to refresh your volunteer site:
Update Your Opportunities Page
You can take the following actions to refresh your web presence and welcome volunteers back.
You’ll want to make sure your images look fresh and inviting. Consider spotlighting new opportunities at the top of your website. Or, create a blog post or photo featuring a “thank you” to your community for their support and acknowledging the changes your organization has made during the COVID-19 recovery phase.
You’ll want your site to look reinvigorated so lapsed volunteers feel your refreshed energy inviting them back into your mission.
Give volunteers and donors a special reason to get involved again. Consider planning a new initiative:a virtual volunteer fair, an online appreciation event for your volunteers to look forward
to, or a virtual Q&A for returning volunteers. Don’t forget to promote your event or initiative on social media and in an email blast to your volunteers. Host a Virtual Volunteer Event
Why not go big with a virtual event?
Use online video tools, from Zoom to Facebook’s Live Streaming to create virtual events to keep volunteers involved. Here are some ideas to get you started::
Create a volunteerism campaign using your volunteer management software to get lapsed volunteers excited about taking part in your program once again! Here are some ways you can boost engagement:
However you choose to involve your volunteers, your volunteer management software should make it easy to manage events and automate volunteer engagement.
Here’s 5 Essential features to look for when choosing a volunteer management software that supports your strategies for re-engaging volunteers.
With the right tools and consistent, clear communication, you’ll be on track to get your loyal volunteers back to programming.
Author: Addison Waters
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