6 min read
The 6 W’s of Starting a Volunteer Program
Tags: Member Engagement,Member Retention
Volunteers Support Your Success
Volunteer programs can serve many important functions for associations – your association might leverage volunteers to help welcome new attendees at an event, run a mentoring program, solicit volunteer committee members and program speakers, and more. Volunteerism serves as a dynamic catalyst for elevating member engagement, creating a sense of community, and fostering lasting connections among professionals within your association. Beyond enhancing camaraderie, volunteer programs provide members with a tangible way to give back to their field and contribute meaningfully to the association’s mission. Additionally, these programs contribute to positive career growth, as members actively involved in volunteering often have access to invaluable networking opportunities and skill development.
From a practical standpoint, volunteer programs not only save staff time but also amplify the association’s impact by tapping into the diverse expertise and enthusiasm of its membership. Thus, volunteer programs emerge as a win-win, empowering members to contribute actively while fortifying the association’s vibrancy, influence, and communal spirit.
Explore our 6 tips to starting a volunteer program of your own!
Identify the Why
Before investing time and resources into a volunteer program just to say you did it, you should ask why a volunteer program could be beneficial to your organization. Ask yourself:
Identify the What
Now it’s time to explore the program itself and set clear parameters for what your volunteer program will include (and what it won’t). Understanding and outlining the details of your volunteer program will help you better communicate with your internal team and with your volunteers – and measure and report on the program’s success!
Identify the Who
A volunteer program doesn’t exist without the volunteers. You may have some enthusiastic members who will independently find and sign up for your volunteer opportunities, but most successful volunteer programs often include an effort to identify and reach out to ideal volunteers. So consider the following questions:
Identify the When
Once you have your volunteer and communication plan clearly outlined, consider when you want to launch your volunteer program.
Measure and Celebrate the Wins
Remember those KPIs you identified in the first step? This is where they come back into play. Make sure you’re regularly measuring your volunteer program’s performance so you can (A) keep an eye out for possible issues or areas of improvement, and (B) track the program’s growth and progress toward your goals and share successes with the team and leadership. Consider:
Address the Whoops
No matter how much thought you put into planning a volunteer program, there will inevitably be opportunities for improvement. Make sure you’re prepared to catch issues before they spiral into bigger problems.
Volunteer Management Made Easy
Higher Logic Thrive's Volunteer Manager tools are a great time-saver for associations running volunteer programs. Automate processes and volunteer communication, create a thriving volunteer community, and easily measure and report on your volunteer programs impact with an intuitive system that makes it simple to find, track, and reward member engagement.