1. Save Money on Professionals: Use skilled volunteers to assist or manage projects in IT, marketing, website design, accounting, communications, fundraising, and other areas. Many nonprofits are already saving money on professional services provided by professional volunteers. What would it be worth to you to have someone who managed your content and website design for free?
2. Increase Volunteer Retention: Just like employees, keeping the volunteers you have saves time and money down the road. How does your rate of volunteer turnover compare with other agencies? What would keep good volunteers around longer? What do they want?
3. Maximize Efficiency and Focus: The ways volunteers are utilized often happens organically over many years. Perhaps programs that worked 10 years ago with volunteers just don’t work as well today due to differing skills, interests and time commitments of today’s new breed of volunteer. Ramp up programs that work and nix programs that are struggling or not providing a good return on investment.
4. Increase Individual Giving: Research shows those who know your organization’s work well – and who invest their volunteer time give are much more likely to invest their money in your organization as well. Many volunteers have employers and they often can engage their companies to become active with your group’s work.
5. Increase Foundation Funding: Increasingly, donors are looking to see how well volunteers are utilized in an organization. Showing dynamic use of volunteers certainly gives a leg up over the competition. Remember when the foundation community said all board members need to give or get money in order for a grant application to be considered? Volunteer engagement is the next criteria that smart donors are using.
6. Leverage Staff Better: It’s expensive having staff. Some of what your staff does now might be able to be handled by volunteers. Staff can then focus on things only staff should be doing. It’s not about displacing staff with volunteers but rather maximizing how an organization uses a 40 hour a week employee.
7. Enhance Staff-Volunteer Relations: Reviewing how volunteers and staff feel about each other can help mitigate problems down the road. It’s a delicate balance between empowering volunteers and allowing staff to make the final decisions. If you could administer a confidential online survey to volunteers and staff, what would their opinions be of each other?
8. Maximize Units of Service/Deliverables: There is so much pressure to perform and measure up these days. If your organization had more leader volunteers who were invested in your cause, a middle management level volunteer could lead direct service volunteers.
9. Strengthen Community Image: Those volunteering their time with you are bound to talk about your organization. That can be a good or bad thing - depending on the experience they’ve had. Having volunteer cheerleaders for your agency provides no better endorsement.
10. Show That Volunteers Matter: Assessing how your agency engages volunteers sends a strong message to staff, volunteers, the board, funders and the public that service is central to your work. It’s about building on your successes and tweaking programs to make them the best they can be.