Virtual Volunteer Onboarding and Management: 4 Expert Tips

September 21, 2022
Checkr Editor

Discover how to upgrade your nonprofit organization’s virtual volunteer program with 4 tips to improve volunteer onboarding and management.

For most nonprofits, getting their plans off the ground would be next to impossible without the hard work of dedicated volunteers. Volunteers play a crucial role in helping organizations complete specific projects and achieve their overall goals.

In the digital age, technology is increasingly integrated into every part of our lives, from work to leisure time. Volunteering efforts are no exception with virtual volunteering and remote volunteer management becoming increasingly popular. 

From performing adequate background checks to asking volunteers for feedback, these tips help nonprofits and other mission-driven organizations effectively manage virtual volunteer opportunities:

  • Perform acceptable background checks and interviews
  • Provide plenty of exciting and accessible opportunities 
  • Leverage the right tools to streamline management
  • Ask for feedback from your volunteers

Any nonprofit can benefit from learning more about how to manage virtual volunteering and onboarding, whether your organization is a small church team or a large nonprofit organization. Let’s get started by talking about best practices when performing background checks and interviews.

1. Perform effective background checks and interviews

Your organization’s online recruitment process and recruitment procedures are the first steps in volunteer onboarding. Since these processes are your volunteers’ first impression of your nonprofit, they can set the tone for the entire volunteer experience. As you meet with potential volunteers, you have the opportunity to learn important information about their unique experiences, skills, and interests.

Follow these steps to ensure a smooth, efficient recruitment process:

  • Check volunteers’ references. Reviewing volunteers’ references is integral to confirming their skills and qualifications. It allows you to learn more about prospective volunteers from a third party who can be honest about their strengths and weaknesses. 
  • Perform background checks. A thorough background check yields important information about prospective volunteers to help you match them with the right opportunities. Employing a more modern “screen-in” approach helps your organization find highly qualified individuals. 
  • Hold effective interviews. An effective interview helps you pinpoint the right person for each volunteer position. The best way to gain the most information from your interviews is to plan and develop your interview questions based on the skills and traits you seek in new volunteers. 

Taking these steps before recruiting a new volunteer ensures you find the best person for the role. Not only will you be satisfied with the work of your highly-qualified, passionate volunteers, but they will be happy and comfortable working in an opportunity that fits their skills and interests. 

2. Provide plenty of interesting and accessible opportunities

If your goal is to manage an effective volunteer program, fostering high levels of volunteer engagement and satisfaction levels should be a top priority. Start by developing ideas for exciting and unique ways to get volunteers involved, such as organizing a fundraiser.

Fundraisers are a fun, accessible way to engage your volunteers. For example, you might host a shoe drive fundraiser, a popular fundraising campaign allowing volunteers to connect with local schools and work with students and their families. Volunteers collect gently worn, used and new shoes from community members, send the shoes to a shoe-drive fundraising partner, and receive a donation for your organization from that partner. 

Communicating about these fundraising opportunities with your volunteers can happen entirely online, making it easy for them to understand their fundraiser and individual responsibilities. Your organization can also create a fundraising toolkit for supporters hosted online. These toolkits instruct supporters on how to begin fundraising on your organization’s behalf.

Spreading awareness of volunteer grants is another way to engage volunteers and help them take their involvement to the next level. Volunteer grants are corporate giving programs where businesses contribute donations to nonprofits after their employees volunteer with those organizations. These grants can boost volunteer engagement by incentivizing participation. 

Urge your volunteers to check with their employers for volunteer grant opportunities to make the most of these donations.

3. Leverage the right tools to streamline management

Your organization can create a better infrastructure for employees and staff members with the right software. The same is true for your volunteers. Volunteers expect the organization they work with to have organized and efficient operations. It makes the volunteer experience more fulfilling and less stressful.

To improve your volunteers’ experience, choose a few management tools and solutions to make management more efficient. These solutions include:

  • Volunteer management software. Volunteer management software provides solutions to some of the more tedious tasks associated with managing volunteers. Managing volunteer sign-ups, scheduling, and shift assignments can be overwhelming, especially if you’re already busy running your organization. Volunteer management software handles these small tasks for you so you can get back to more important matters.
  • A fundraising service or partner. Fundraising can be stressful, especially if you’re planning a large event. If you’re hosting something like a shoe drive fundraiser, partnering with an organization that helps with the logistics can reduce the stress of managing the fundraiser and help you raise more.

Keep volunteer efforts organized with tools designed to take some weight off your shoulders. You will not only have more room in your schedule to interact with volunteers, but volunteers will also work more efficiently.

4. Ask for feedback from your volunteers

You probably have a high-level understanding of what’s going right or wrong within your virtual volunteer program. But as a busy nonprofit professional, you might not have detailed knowledge of your volunteers’ day-to-day challenges. Asking volunteers for feedback about the successes and failures of your virtual volunteer programs gives you a clear understanding of the state of your program and ways to improve it.

Not only does improving your virtual volunteer program enhance your volunteers’ experience, but it also creates new opportunities for your organization. For instance, volunteers might provide valuable strategies for improving communication and pitching new fundraising ideas. With a few tweaks to your volunteer program, you could receive an influx of new, engaging fundraising ideas from your volunteers that maximize revenue for your nonprofit.

The best way to get feedback is to create a survey for your volunteers. Ask survey questions that address various parts of the virtual volunteer experience, such as top successes, failures, and how likely they are to continue volunteering. Consider adding a function to the survey that allows entries to be anonymous to encourage honest feedback.

In closing

Passionate and dedicated volunteers are one of the most valuable resources available to nonprofit organizations. As your volunteers help your organization accomplish its goals, strive to make their experience positive and rewarding. Improving your virtual volunteer onboarding and management offerings will increase volunteer retention, engagement, and satisfaction.

Interested in learning more about background checks for volunteers? Talk to Checkr today.

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