6 Ideas for Nonprofits to Boost Volunteer Retention and Recruitment Through Recognition

This content discusses the importance of volunteer recognition and provides six ideas for using ShortStack for volunteer recognition campaigns.

By Kenny Goranson ・5 min read
Best Practices

Volunteers are the heart and soul of nonprofit organizations. For many volunteers, doing “good” in their community and helping an organization they believe in is the perfect reward. However, nonprofits know that to keep their volunteers coming back over and over again, a little recognition for their efforts is appreciated. Volunteer retention is important for nonprofits. Nationally, the volunteer retention rate for nonprofit organizations is 65%. That means for every three volunteers, one doesn’t return. Volunteer turnover can be costly, even though volunteers aren’t paid. Recruiting new volunteers can take resources, both time and money, and training new volunteers requires even more time. By making volunteers feel like their efforts are seen by your nonprofit through various recognition campaigns, your organization can keep them coming back time and time again. Furthermore, volunteer recognition campaigns that are public-facing are a great way to recruit new volunteers to your organization as organization awareness campaigns.  Below are six ideas for how your organization can use ShortStack for volunteer recognition. (Read to the end to learn about a special nonprofit offer from ShortStack.)[caption id="attachment_48933" align="alignnone" width="533"]

Host a Volunteer of the Year Contest[/caption]Volunteers are constantly going the extra mile when the organization needs them most. They devote their time to helping the organization achieve its goals and fulfill its mission. Show your volunteers how much you appreciate them with a Volunteer of the Year contest. Honoring top volunteers allows your top volunteers to show off and it gives you the opportunity to explain how volunteers help your organization thrive.ShortStack makes a Volunteer of the Year contest is easy to host. Use our Story Contest template, and add pictures and descriptions to show how your volunteers have made a difference for your organization. To get started, either select the Volunteer of the Year candidates yourself or allow your followers and volunteers to submit themselves or nominate others. Ask entrants to share how they help your cause. Then ask folks to share their entries to gain votes. The volunteer with the most votes wins! The incentive to share will bring in additional awareness to your cause. By sharing their stories and reasons for volunteering, people who visit the campaign to vote for the Volunteer of the Year might relate to that “why” and become volunteers themselves.

Provide Information and Shoutouts in a Newsletter

Your volunteers like staying in the know about what’s going on with your organization. Use an email newsletter to keep them up to date with all the latest happenings with your organization. Let them know about upcoming volunteer opportunities when big goals are met, special events, discounts, fundraisers or when a new initiative is launched.Making your newsletter THE place for volunteers to go to learn about all things related to your organization, also makes it the perfect place to recognize your volunteers. Include a Volunteer of the Month section to honor someone whose help your organization wouldn’t be the same without, who worked the most hours over the month, or who helped your team meet some hefty fundraising goals. However you use your newsletter, it should be considered a key component of your communication with your supporters.ShortStack allows you to create and schedule emails to send to your email list. These emails are especially handy if you’ve used ShortStack to collect email addresses for a contest, volunteer sign-up page, or awareness event.

Have a T-Shirt Design Contest

Everyone loves a good t-shirt. They’re also the perfect form of word-of-mouth marketing. Whether you give them away to volunteers or sell them at fundraisers, people with the t-shirt will be happy to sport your cause’s logo when they’re out and about. Heck, a lot of hardcore donors and volunteers even collect them as souvenirs.Instead of just slapping your logo on a shirt and calling it a day, get your volunteers involved in the design process. T-shirt design contests and similar campaigns (maybe you need a new logo or you want help with web design) offer a unique way to get new people involved with your organization and provide a fun challenge for those who are already helping out. Use our Photo Contest template to have entrants submit their designs. Give designers your t-shirt requirements (organization logo, colors, wording, etc.) and let them get to work. Once the entry period has ended, ask entrants to share their submissions to gain votes. The design with the most votes wins! This allows your fans to show off their talent and spread the word about your organization at the same time.[caption id="attachment_48934" align="alignnone" width="600"]

Create Volunteer-only Contests[/caption]Volunteers aren’t typically helping your organization for the perks, but that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be any! While many organizations will give a simple thank you to their volunteers, why not go the extra mile by adding in some low-cost benefits to those donating their time to help your organization achieve its mission? Exclusive contests that are only available to volunteers show them you appreciate their help.Use our Invite-Only template to create a contest that can only be accessed by an invitation link. Use an invite-only campaign as a means to make your giveaway only accessible to those who deserve it most! , you are able to create a password-based Form that will only be accessed by those who have the code to get in. To get a link, your volunteers need to be on your mailing list. Send out contest invites in your newsletter to add a bit more excitement and increase the number of people who open and read it. Draw attention to your contest and organization by announcing the winners on your social media channels. Tell your followers that the contests are exclusive to volunteers, then tell them how they can sign up to participate with your organization to be eligible in the future.

Provide Information Immediately After Volunteer Sign-up

Remaining top of mind is essential to retaining volunteers. A simple way to do this is by utilizing autoresponder emails after volunteers fill out forms on your website. However, your nonprofit organization can take it another step further. ShortStack’s autoresponder feature can be added to any ShortStack campaign with a form. After submission, the entrant will receive an email with whatever you’d like to include. This quick and automatic thank you works as confirmation that their information was received and provides you with valuable real estate to help strengthen your relationship with your volunteers. Use the autoresponder to send important links to your social media and website and share fun information with supporters or recognize top volunteers. Plus, a “Donate here” button could pay off greatly as people enter your contests or sign-up to volunteer and learn more about your organization

Bring It All Together

The more your volunteers know about your organization, the better! Get them excited by giving them the motivation they need by providing them with information. Share goals, contests, volunteer sign-up forms, fundraiser information, events, the list goes on.All of this information needs a place to live. With Shortstack Paging Widget, you can make your landing page act as a multi-page website. Create a subpage that shares information about your organization, another with your contest, a third about all the wonderful things you bring to your community, and another to use as a link to other campaigns or fundraisers you currently have running. Learn more about how your nonprofit can use ShortStack to meet your outreach and volunteer goals. NOTE: Shortstack offers discounts of 50% off all plans for nonprofit organizations. If your organization is interested in taking advantage of this offer, please email for more information.

About the author

By Kenny Goranson ・5 min read

Kenny is an integral part of ShortStack's small but mighty support team and brings a lifetime's worth of education and experiences to the table. He holds a degree in Marketing, a master’s degree in Educational Leadership, and has worked for organizations both large and small.

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