7 Ways to Nurture Volunteerism During April's National Volunteer Month

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In honor of National Volunteer Month, Higher Logic shares insights on optimally channeling the energy of volunteers

Volunteers are important to the success of every organization, and members inherently want to give back

April is National Volunteer Month, and to honor the occasion, Higher Logic today offered insights into how to nurture corporate volunteerism. The IRS has recognized 68,208 trade and professional associations, and nearly 63 million Americans volunteer through a membership organization, amounting to nearly 7.7 billion hours each year.

The desire to volunteer is already present in most organizations, and research shows the ideal volunteer process starts with small tasks and virtual participation, working all the way up to committees and leadership positions. However, the best way to nurture this “volunteer commitment journey” is evolving, and organizations must adapt their tools and methodologies to today’s members.

“Volunteers are important to the success of every organization, and members inherently want to give back and deepen their involvement,” says Higher Logic CEO Rob Wenger. “The goal today is to use all the tools at our disposal to understand our people and their interests and skills, and then track all the activity to ensure all the volunteer energy and engagement is optimally channeled.”

Here are seven tips to nurture the volunteer commitment journey at your organization.

1. Harness cognitive surplus
According to Clay Shirky, “cognitive surplus” is made up of two things: the world’s free time and talents – a trillion hours a year of free time to commit to shared projects – and the media tools to take advantage of that time. Think about how your organization – with its special skills and talents – can contribute. What have you already done, and what can you create from that? Recognize that most volunteers want to drive a mission, not just support an organization, and that participation will depend on where individuals are in their careers and their family situations.

2. Take advantage of communities
Online communities are increasingly important today, especially to Millennials. To encourage them and others to volunteer more, include volunteer opportunities in your communities, especially causes that are meaningful to your members and that leverage their skills. Don’t think Millennials are interested in volunteering? According to the 2015 Millennial Impact Report, 70 percent of Millennials volunteer at least one hour a year, and 37 percent volunteer up to 10 hours a year. Four out of five are motivated by a passion for a cause, 56 percent opt to work with like-minded people, and 77 percent are more likely to volunteer if they can use specific skills or expertise – and can see how they’re contributions help.

3. Crowdsource community goals
Now, more than ever, people are able to crowdsource their skills online for the greater good. As volunteerism becomes a regular theme in your community, you can leverage the community to surface specific knowledge, solve problems, promote worthy causes and accomplish big goals.

4. Automate volunteer management
Make it easy to create and fill volunteer opportunities that fit every volunteer’s skills, interests, and location. Automate solicitation, selection and tracking of volunteers to save staff time and obtain better results.

5. Enable personalized volunteer profiles
Let members create and maintain profiles, where they can include their skills, experience and volunteer interests. Use email and notifications to actively push relevant volunteer opportunities to specific individuals.

6. Reward and recognize
Encourage member participation using gamification tactics like virtual badges, ribbons, and a volunteer leaderboard. In addition, reward volunteers using traditional practices such as personalized letters and physical gifts.

7. Track engagement
Collect data. Why are people raising their hands to volunteer? If you don’t know why they want to do it, you can’t work to attract them. Measure all volunteer efforts at the organizational, component or industry level. Track individual volunteer opportunities throughout the year and combine this information to develop a complete understanding of your organization’s volunteer efforts and achievements.

About Higher Logic
Higher Logic is an industry leader in cloud-based community platforms, with over 25 million engaged members in more than 200,000 communities. Organizations worldwide use Higher Logic to bring like-minded people all together by giving their community a home where they can meet, share ideas, answer questions and stay connected. Learn more at http://www.higherlogic.com.

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Amanda Orr
@HigherLogic
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Higher Logic
since: 12/2009
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