Here are some of the benefits of onboarding your volunteers:
Sets Clear Expectations
Onboarding is the best way to get your volunteers and your organization on the same page right from the start. Volunteers are donating their time and talent to your organization, so you want to make sure that they are coming in with a clear understanding of expectations for them, including: roles and responsibilities, timing and schedules, necessary skill sets, etc.
Setting clear expectations of volunteers scares some organizations, since finding volunteers can be daunting anyways. While we understand that your organization probably does not want to scare or turn anyone away, making it clear what you need from potential volunteers will provide smoother volunteer management in the long run. If someone does not fit your needs, it is better to know before you invest time and energy into incorporating them into your organization.
(Check out Onboarding 101 at the bottom of this article to learn what components go should go into successful volunteer onboarding.)
Cultivates the Relationship Early
Spending time orienting and training your volunteers shows them how valued and valuable they are to your organization. Nonprofits are busy, so if you are taking time out your normal day-to-day activities to train and onboard your volunteers, there will be no doubt that you are invested in them. Giving them your time and attention early on through the onboarding process will build relationships and make them feel more loyal to your organization.
Confident Volunteers = Better Volunteers
This may seem obvious, but knowing what you are doing goes a long way. Volunteers that have been properly trained and educated are more confident in their roles within the organization. And especially if volunteers are outward-facing (meaning they are representing your organization in any capacity), confidence is key. Volunteers want to feel like they have stake in the organization, and being educated and “in the loop” about what is happening within the nonprofit makes a big difference in their confidence levels. Having confident, well-informed volunteers will make them that much more effective in whatever role they have with your organization.
Retention Over Time
Nonprofit leaders often find themselves worried about volunteer turnover. Many factors go into volunteer turnover and it seems that volunteer retention is an evergreen subject among nonprofit professionals. While there is not a set formula for volunteer retention, there are factors that can be attributed to volunteer loyalty and continued support. Investing your time into your volunteers can pay dividends in retention over time. Volunteers that feel valued, that are using their skill sets, and have healthy relationships with staff members and other volunteers are more likely to continue to donate their time and talents.