Here at Triangle Cares, we understand the value of good volunteers. As an organization, our mission is to connect nonprofit organizations with volunteers in the community. While we have a small team that works behind the scenes on our platform, our volunteer base is arguably the most important part of our operation - without them and the work they do in the community, Triangle Cares would be entirely ineffective.
Volunteers are the backbone of most nonprofit organizations; they are the ones who drive the mission of the nonprofit to benefit the greater community. Having a multitude of volunteers is necessary to scale your organization and mission regionally, globally, or even internationally, but having the right volunteers is how your nonprofit will propel to sustained success. So what makes a good volunteer?
The familiar saying “quality is better than quantity” is true when it comes to volunteers. It is better to have a handful of people who are dedicated and believe in the mission of the nonprofit than a larger sum of people who aren’t motivated and are participating for some other benefit - whether that be a requirement for school or an additive to their resume. Furthermore, the standard volunteer can be a nuisance to your nonprofit; they likely bring a mediocre work ethic and show up without generating any results. Here are a few qualities you should look for when recruiting the right volunteers to your nonprofit organization:
PASSION - As the leader of your nonprofit, you are passionate about your mission. You should find volunteers that have that same fire within them. They should believe in your mission and see how it benefits the community. When you work with passionate volunteers who bring energy and charisma to serving your mission, you’ve found the right people.
COMMITMENT - According to a study from Americorps, the average volunteer retention rate is between 45% and 70% depending on the location that your nonprofit serves. Find committed volunteers that want to support your organization long term. The right volunteers are the ones who stick to their commitments and follow through on their word.
RELIABLE - Make sure your volunteers have the time and tools to fulfill the commitment to your cause. For example, if you are recruiting students from a local high school, make sure they have means of transportation. Similarly, make sure that your recruited volunteers have the time necessary for the commitment of the position.
PROFESSIONAL - Your volunteers should bring the same level of professionalism that they would bring to any other job. As an organization, you should create a culture where your volunteers enjoy the work they are doing and are able to build friendships with other volunteers while also maintaining an expectation of professionalism.
LEADER - Individuals who possess strong leadership skills make great volunteers. They are able to perform high level duties and can help to teach or train others to perform different functions. They also have the ability to inspire team members and spread the mission of your volunteer program.
TEAM ORIENTED - Recruit individuals who are team players. A nonprofit organization is essentially a team working together to complete a common goal, whether that is effectively feeding the homeless in a soup kitchen or tutoring kids in low income schools throughout the community. Your volunteers need to be able to work well with their peers so they can collaborate to accomplish the goals of the organization.
Although volunteerism is an unpaid commitment, it is still crucial to find the right people for the role; hiring anyone and everyone can create issues, but spending time recruiting individuals who are passionate, committed, reliable, professional, good leaders, and team oriented will scale your nonprofit organization to incredible new heights.
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Jordan Hannan and Jordan Lappin