Volunteer Onboarding Process 101
As a cultural institution or nonprofit, you probably rely on volunteers to bring your events to life, organize fundraisers, and fulfill your customer service roles.
Volunteers are a necessary part of the nonprofit model, and it’s important to make a good first impression and welcome new members warmly if you want to build a strong volunteering community.
Below we’ll look at how to effectively onboard volunteers to grow your community and bring your campaigns to life.
What is Volunteer onboarding?
Volunteer onboarding is similar to onboarding employees in business. It’s a process of introducing and familiarizing new volunteers into your organization. Onboarding gives volunteers an opportunity to acclimate to their roles, ask questions, learn the ins and outs of your organization, and become culturally acclimated to your organization.
Volunteer onboarding isn’t just about providing your volunteers with the tools they need to succeed. It’s also a great opportunity for volunteers to learn, grow, and enhance their experience with your organization.
Some of the things you might do in the onboarding process include:
- Allowing volunteers to shadow your more experienced members.
- Explaining the day-to-day tasks and responsibilities of their roles.
- Providing any necessary training or certification.
- Giving space to new volunteers to ask questions.
- Bond with volunteers through group events, dinners, or other team-building activities.
Why Volunteer Onboarding is so Important
Onboarding is about much more than just training new volunteers to excel in their roles. Great onboarding processes help build a sense of community, strengthen relationships, and allow you to grow into the future.
Below are a few reasons why volunteer onboarding is so important for your institution.
Community-centered onboarding practices lead to volunteers who feel inspired and energized to participate in your cause. It’s easier for volunteers to see the impact of their efforts when you surround them with like-minded individuals who believe in your mission statement.
You can create this sense of belonging and inspiration by emphasizing your common goal and introducing volunteers to the individuals who are passionate about making that common goal a reality.
Create meaningful relationships among peers
Volunteering is a great way to meet like-minded people and build life-long relationships. Not only is it more enjoyable to work around people you enjoy, but people are more motivated to complete tasks when they work together with peers.
You can encourage volunteers to bond by holding team-building activities and meetups throughout the onboarding process.
Comfortable working relationship with volunteers/managers
Volunteers should feel comfortable around your organization’s managers and leadership. The last thing you want is to create an uncomfortable or tentative environment around your team leaders. The onboarding process is a great opportunity for volunteers to work directly with team leaders, managers, or experienced volunteers and gain a sense of comfort/familiarity with your higher ups.
Onboarding is also great for establishing and managing expectations. Volunteers are typically passionate about being involved with a nonprofit and cultural institution. And sometimes that passion translates into high expectations about what they want to get out of their experience.
Onboarding is a good opportunity to manage volunteer expectations and lay out what the opportunity entails. When you define the roles, responsibilities, and expectations for your volunteers (and vice versa), neither you will be met with any unpleasant surprise when their position officially starts.
Take the time to motivate
When it comes to day-to-day tasks, it’s important to focus on your immediate responsibilities and take it one step at a time. Still, it doesn’t hurt to remind your volunteers of the big picture from time to time, especially in the onboarding process.
You can take time to motivate your new volunteers by showing them what they’re working towards. If you’re working on community gardens, show them what previous gardens have turned into. If you’re international philanthropy, get them engaged with the impoverished communities or natural sites you’re putting support into.
Process conflicting emotions, acclimate new volunteers to their surrounding (even from home)
Starting a new role can be an emotional, nerve-wracking, and a some-times scary transition period. It’s important to help volunteers process those emotions and acclimate to their new environment. Things like volunteer pamphlets, online communities, and robust training can help instill a sense of confidence and self-efficacy in your new volunteers.
Retain your volunteers!
When it comes to retention, the stats are pretty consistent: effective onboarding practices lead to higher retention. A Click Boarding study found that 69 percent of employees are more likely to stay with an organization for more than three years if they experienced great onboarding.
Onboarding sets a positive tone, establishes a mutually beneficial relationship, and builds a sense of community that leads to longer lasting and healthier relationships.
How Acme Ticketing Can Help
Your volunteers will appreciate an organized and well-managed fundraising campaign, event oversight system, and donor management process. With ACME’s cloud software, you can create a seamless experience for your visitors, staff, and volunteers.
Your volunteers will appreciate ACME’s flexible POS system, contactless payment system, and event configuration system so you never have to deal with printed tickets. Optimize your onboarding process and give your volunteers everything they need to run a successful event with ACME today.