3 tips for better volunteer management

August 13, 2014

3 tips for better volunteer management

Volunteers are one of the greatest resources nonprofits can utilize. They donate their valuable time and efforts to maintain and improve the success of a nonprofit's mission. Additionally, the hard work of volunteers provides a big help to many organizations because they ease stress from staff members, allowing them to focus on other tasks they do best. Having an active, happy and engaged volunteer base can help individual projects become more successful and efficient, while also reducing stress on an already overworked group of employees.

Because volunteers are so valuable, being able to effectively manage them is crucial for many nonprofits. Here are three pieces of advice for keeping volunteers happy and motivated:

  1. Make information as complete as possible: For someone who works day in and day out at a nonprofit, it's easy to overlook the small details that are involved with giving volunteers instructions. In a list of tips for successfully managing volunteers, the Case Foundation suggested making sure the small things are sorted out ahead of time. This can include a variety of concepts and ideas, depending on what the specific event or task is. A few common concerns are where to park for an event, or which employee or organizer to look for upon arrival. Providing a clear set of instructions for getting to the venue makes participation that much easier.
  2. Provide a few basic amenities: A small outlay in terms of time and effort can make volunteers truly feel appreciated. Having some water available during a hot day of outside work or coffee for an early morning event are two good examples of this approach. Telling volunteers what to bring and what will be provided to them can help keep them focused and avoid early departures due to a forgotten lunch or bottle of water. Having something available for volunteers when they're taking a break, even if it's a token amenity, will help them feel more valued.
  3. Provide a look at the small and large outcomes: : Tying in the work at a specific event, or duties an office volunteer performs, to the outcome of achieving a nonprofit's mission is an important part of successful management. Nonprofit contribution management site DonationPay suggests this approach is especially effective when volunteers are performing less-exciting but necessary tasks, such as stuffing envelopes or monitoring entry and exit at an event.

Content presented by First Nonprofit Group, the leading provider of state unemployment insurance solutions for 501(c)(3) nonprofit employers.


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CCSCT was approached by First NonProfit to discuss its Unemployment Savings Program and ways the program could significantly reduce the amount of unemployment taxes we were paying. At the time, our agency was paying approximately $80,000 per year. First NonProfit conducted an analysis to determine if making the switch would be in our best interest, and it clearly was based on our circumstances. The first year on the program, CCSCT saw a 70% reduction in its unemployment costs and each year, continues to experience further reductions as a result of having minimal claims. Some additional benefits of the program including having a fixed annual cost, an interest-baring reserve account, professional unemployment claims management and representation at all unemployment hearings. This has been one of the best decisions we have made.

Community Council of South Central Texas, Inc., Seguin, TX

We first started using First Nonprofit’s Unemployment Savings Program when we were a small startup nonprofit.  We didn’t have an HR department and needed expertise in the event that an unemployment claim was made.  We knew we were eligible to be a reimbursing employer, but weren’t sure how to navigate that process.  They made it easy to set things up, plan for, and then manage claims when they came at a very reasonable cost. The amount of time and stress they’ve saved us dealing with all this has been worth way more than the cost.  We’ve now grown to a large nonprofit and do have an HR department but have no plans to stop using their services.  I highly recommend them to every nonprofit I come into contact with!


Throughout our membership in the Unemployment Savings Program, First Nonprofit understood our demands, community dynamics, and the importance of seamless services; that allowed us to serve our constituents better.

Prevent Blindness America, Chicago, IL

Because INCS advocates for the operating conditions that allow charter public schools to provide high quality public education, partnering with First Nonprofit was an easy decision. First Nonprofit’s unemployment programs provide our member schools two operating elements crucial to their ability to provide high quality public education: savings and budget certainty. Capable, committed teachers are the key to student success. By participating in the unemployment insurance savings plan, charter public schools gain peace of mind and are able to invest more money in their teachers.

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