New Year, New Goals: 5 Resolutions for Volunteer Programs

Jan 17, 2011 8:00 AM ET

Who actually keeps their New Year’s resolutions? Most of us forget all about them after a few weeks.

But some things – like volunteer programs – need to have priority 52 weeks of the year.  And of you are a nonproftit manager it can be hard to find the time and resources to put your volunteer program first.

Here are some resolutions you can make now to ensure that your program is a 2011 success story, and some tools to help you along the way:

Resolution #1: Set Specific Goals and Share Them

Decide now what you want to accomplish with your volunteer program in the next year.  What milestones will you reach? What metrics will you track? Share with your colleagues and your community. Use these goals as your horizon, so you never lose site of what you’re working towards throughout the year.

Resolution #2: Realize the Potential of Social Media

Social media can seem daunting and chaotic, but with a minimum of time and resources you can use it to increase your supporters.  One great tool is the #VolunTweet hashtag on Twitter that we introduced earlier in the year.  Use it to publicize your volunteer opportunities and raise the visibility of your organization’s volunteer program.

Another powerful and simple social media tool is your nonprofit’s Facebook Page.  Engage everyone that likes your Page in discussions and events, and you’ll deepen their support and have new ways to mobilize your community members to action.

Finally, don’t forget to click on the “Share” buttons on VolunteerMatch when you post a new volunteer opportunity.  With one click, you can make sure your entire social network knows about this new way to help you.

Resolution #3: Diversify Your Volunteer Recruitment

There are two ways to expand your volunteer recruitment strategy in 2011: Distribute your listings more broadly, and bring in a greater range of volunteer types.  For the first, you can use the VolunteerMatch Syndication Tool to post your volunteer listings on your own website for your entire community to see.

As for the second, it’s important to create new types of volunteer opportunities to attract a wider range of volunteers.  Consider skilled volunteers, children groups, or volunteers from different countries.  Chances are there are ways they can all help you accomplish your mission.

Resolution #4: Tell Your Story

Nothing is more effective in connecting with volunteers and supporters than storytelling.  VolunteerMatch loves to tell the stories of nonprofits who use volunteers to do their work – you can submit your story to us here.

You should also tell your story in your own way, in your own media.  Your volunteers probably have amazing anecdotes about the work they’ve done with you and how it’s impacted them.  You can gather these stories using tools like VolunteerMatch’s “email all,” as well as putting out a request on your Facebook Page.

Resolution #5: Find Time for Professional Development

You should always be looking for new ways to learn and grow in your position.  This doesn’t have to be costly or time-consuming.  VolunteerMatch offers free 1-hour webinars throughout the year focused on various ways you can be a better volunteer manager.

Last week VolunteerMatch hosted a special webinar about the value of the CVA credential and how it can benefit you and your organization. We have a lot more coming up. For more information about VolunteerMatch webinars, check out the Learning Center.

You can use all of these resolutions and tools as you work towards the goals you set.  And a year from now, that horizon will be a lot closer.

Here’s to a happy, healthy, and volunteer-filled 2011!