Successful Volunteer Management

May 8, 2018

Engaged volunteers are the life blood of a vibrant nonprofit organization. The majority of nonprofits’ boards are comprised of volunteers. In fact, some nonprofits have no paid staff and are run completely by volunteers. Volunteers are the most loyal supporters of nonprofits in both time and money.

Focusing on the mission and impact of nonprofits is a given. But does your organization put the appropriate energy into managing volunteers?  This group should receive as much attention as paid staff.

Here are action items that every nonprofit should incorporate:

  • Get better visibility and efficiency through technology. Software can help manage scheduling, collect important data, and automate marketing and messaging. Use technology to keep profiles of volunteers including contact information, skills, interests, communication preferences and volunteer history.


  • Require that everyone in the organization is involved in recruiting and managing volunteers. Target and recruit the volunteers you need and treat them like consultants. Nonprofits have diverse needs. Know exactly the skills that the organization needs and go after people who can fill those roles. Understand the unique personalities of your volunteers in order to keep them fulfilled in their roles. Focus on having the right fit for your volunteers, the same way you would with a paid employee.


  • Document policies and procedures for volunteers and conduct a formal onboarding session. Partnering new volunteers with mentors will help acclimate new members and make them feel welcome.


  • Consistent dialogue with volunteers along with recognition can help keep volunteers committed and engaged. Solicit feedback, make thank you phone calls, write thank you notes, and send out newsletters. Highlight volunteer engagement in social media.


  • Provide volunteers with opportunities for skill development and leadership roles. Hold the organization accountable to a reciprocal relationship with volunteers.


  • Keep everyone’s eye on the prize…the mission. Volunteers want their efforts to impact a cause in a tangible way. Communicate the outcomes of the organization. Make sure to tell the right stories that will keep volunteers engaged.


  • Workmans’ compensation does not cover volunteers in some states. Your nonprofit may need to purchase volunteer accident insurance.


A successful volunteer strategy will make your nonprofit thrive. Happy and engaged volunteers will tell your story. They will recruit friends and family members to volunteer and you will see an increase your financial donor base.