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How Well Do You Know Your Organization's Volunteers?

Written by Andy Steggles | on August 14, 2015 at 9:00 AM


Your organization might have members lining up for volunteering opportunities, with event positions always overbooked for help and community discussions and blogs bursting at the seams. But if you are like the average organization, you struggle to gather and redirect your members into volunteer buckets that best suit individual needs and skill sets.

Let’s define the term “volunteer,” because it goes beyond charity walks and traditional association committees. Here are the top three ways to categorize your member volunteers:

  • Term based: volunteer performs a service for the organization that is based on a time commitment. Example: committee participation or chapter leadership have one-year terms
  • Task based: volunteer works on a project that is typically a short-term role, focused on specific outcomes and aligned with a volunteer’s skill set. Example: event coordinator from a member organization plans a community meet up during the annual conference
  • Virtual: volunteer completes tasks remotely and online, which can be both active and passive. Example: a passive task might be adding a blog post to the community site

Applying Micro-Volunteering to Volunteers Types

What about the more dynamic and unstructured volunteer opportunities occurring all the time and rarely counted as volunteering? The nonprofit sector first identified micro-volunteering and pushed to embrace it. Like small financial gifts that add up, the small gift of time spent has the same impact if pooled. The explosion of micro-jobs created an expectation for members to seek out the same. These also become examples for organizations to model.

Start by taking an inventory of all areas where members have contributed. Use your online community platform and tally the activity. How many members have ever posted a message? Who responded to the “call for action” by writing a letter to their senators in support of your organization’s position?

Engage with members who have completed an industry focused benchmarking survey. Do we add members who submitted session suggestions for an annual conference? All of these examples could be considered volunteers—they collectively create value for the membership and the organization as a whole.

Tracking Offline Volunteer Engagement

How does your organization capture the amazing volunteer moments your members participate in and complete outside of your program or community? As we’ve said before, the desire for volunteering opportunities is already there, and members want to give back.

Compile both online and offline engagement at three levels: organization, component and industry. These levels ensure you’re covering enough ground to create a complete volunteer picture of every member. Volunteer profiles can become more robust and detailed, and your program can cater opportunities depending on the members’ tendencies towards term, task or virtual volunteering.

Don’t forget to check out our latest eBook, The Volunteer Experience, to see how your organization can revamp its volunteering efforts.


Volunteer Experience eBook

Topics: Volunteer Management, Online Community

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