As part of our discovery period on any project, we like to delve into the organisation with a view to getting a true picture of their goals, problems and pain points. Only through building a true picture of the objectives of both the organisation and their users, can we make the suggestion of a digital investment which will effectively serve both.
We’re fortunate to work with some incredible charities. As we went through this process with more and more charities we discovered similar problems. Of course fundraising is always high on the agenda, but what surprised us in coming up time and time again was volunteers - how to recruit, engage and retain them.
Earlier this year we hosted an online workshop with the Heads of Volunteering at some of the UK’s most well-known charities. We wanted to gather them together to explore the problem space and question what the common issues are in recruiting, engaging and retaining volunteers. You can take a look at an overview of the workshop here.
The problem space
During this workshop, we collated common problems and pain points for volunteering teams. The key issues mentioned by volunteer leads include:
- Lack of connection between the volunteer and the wider organisation
- Spread of volunteers across a wide location meaning communication is difficult
- A struggle recruiting and retaining young volunteers
- Encouraging and enabling the skills development of volunteers
- Siloed working - communication in regards to volunteers and volunteering opportunities across teams is lacking
- Inconsistent or lack of communication around the different types of volunteering opportunities available
- Keeping volunteers engaged long term
While there were many issues that came up, one of the problems that was voted most highly by attendees, and that seemed to overlap with many of the wider concerns was the lack of a central online information hub for volunteers. The addition of a central hub could help to solve many of the issues that were discussed, and alleviate the concerns affecting volunteer teams.
The business case
Volunteers are a critical resource to charities. It is only with the support of volunteers that charities are able to deliver the services and support that underpins our society. But charities are struggling to gain more volunteers and retain them long-term.
There is an opportunity here to build an internal tool which will serve both the charity and their volunteers to make the experience better for both. An improved experience will help volunteers to feel more connected with the charity, and keep them invested in volunteering. An online volunteer hub can help charities to increase engagement, ensure data is kept up-to-date, create internal process efficiencies and save costs.
A central online volunteer hub would foster better connection between a volunteer and the charity, give more clarity on the impact of the work delivered and cultivate a wider sense of community, giving volunteers more purpose. This leads to longer term involvement with volunteering, a greater spread of information within personal networks and increased performance.
More online functionality also helps charities with attracting and retaining a younger volunteer pool who have an expectation and familiarity with digital resources.
Up to date data
Enabling volunteers to maintain their own information not only gives them more ownership of their personal data, but also helps keep it up to date. Up to date data enables the charity to develop better personalisation and in turn, more meaningful and effective comms.
The organisation will also have better access to volunteer information which serves the charity - easier business planning and a greater understanding of the role of volunteers.
A centralised place for onboarding and documentation saves valuable time for internal teams, only having to upload content once which is then accessible to all. Increased personalisation means that comms will be effective, and many can be automated (for example, reminders to log time, or celebratory messages).
The ability to bring training online, and map volunteers with skills easily also improves internal processes.
A long term volunteer is not only useful to the charity in terms of the work they deliver, but also saves precious funds in not having to re-recruit or re-train. Automated or improved processes save time internally and will enable further cost savings to the charity.
Building the solution - get involved
There are huge benefits to be gained from a centralised source of information for volunteers. We’re keen to continue this conversation, and would like to bring together charities to pool resources and build a hub that will help charities to better recruit, engage and retain volunteers. Register your interest in being a part of this collective here.
We’ve started to bring together the functionality for this volunteer hub - get in touch if you’d like to receive a copy of this.