Onboarding the Right Online Volunteers the Right Way

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When recruiting new workers and volunteers to join your nonprofit organization, there is not just the concern of if they have the appropriate skill set for your job openings. You also need to know if they are passionate about the causes your organization is supporting.

Due to the limitations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many nonprofits have had to exclusively take in only online volunteers for the time being. This has made the recruitment process even more complicated than it used to be.

As your organization grows remotely, the right systems must be in place to ensure that you welcome the most suitable members to your team.

Effective Online Volunteer Recruitment

While restrictions have made pivoting to online operations a necessity, they will remain an important part of volunteer management even once the world has reopened. Here are a few steps that will make the recruitment process easier for nonprofits.

1. Make use of available digital tools.

The pandemic has made it apparent that automation is vital to remain relevant in an increasingly digital world. To stay ahead of its demands, adopt digital tools where appropriate.

Stay organized during the hiring process by using HR recruitment software. This allows HR managers to keep track of active applications and easily schedule interviews in one platform. Since many volunteers will be interested in doing remote volunteer work, these tools keep you prepared for the volume of applications you will get.

2. Have a clear job description.

A clearly stated job description helps to weed out unqualified candidates even before they apply. Concisely discuss the important skills a volunteer needs for the role and a brief background of what it is about. It also helps candidates to immediately know the duration of service that is needed of them and the work hours involved.

Clearly express the importance of the role to your organization and how it will impact clients or those you are helping. When all of these are given beforehand, applicants can gauge their capacity to serve in the role even before the interview.

3. Clearly provide the next steps.

A lack of communication unnecessarily complicates the application process for both the applicant and the recruiter. When someone sends an email expressing their interest in joining as a volunteer, send a pre-prepared checklist of things they must do in time for the interview.

Do they need to take a short skill test? Do you have a questionnaire you want applicants to answer? Provide these to interested applicants and give a deadline.

These additional steps also allow you to see which candidates are truly interested in the role. Have them acknowledge the email or message so that your team knows how many final applications to expect.

cleaning volunteers

Training New Recruits

When you have welcomed new volunteers, you must also take time to ease them into their roles. Train them so that they will be prepared for the work their positions entail.

1. Have a nesting period for new volunteers.

Do not immediately provide the full workload to new volunteers. For their first two weeks or so, introduce them to the persons they will be working with and familiarize them with your daily operations so they understand the dedication and output that is expected of them.

To save time on introductions and explanations, pre-record an orientation video that briefly explains the basics to them. Keep it short—around five to 10 minutes long—to maintain the attention of those watching.

2. Assign a supervisor to train and evaluate them.

During their nesting period, assign a supervisor for volunteers to direct their questions about their responsibilities or the organization itself. Supervisors should take time to regularly provide feedback to new volunteers during this period.

This is an important part of the process as it helps establish an open and understanding culture for both longtime team members and new volunteers. It also keeps output expectations clear for volunteers.

3. Show gratitude for their efforts.

Remote operations have greatly limited the opportunities to interact with fellow volunteers. Supervisors and teammates must then be more intentional in expressing gratitude for the efforts of every person, especially new volunteers who are still adjusting.

Show appreciation for the time and effort these individuals pour into your shared cause by saying thank you. Have project heads personally commend volunteers with exceptional work so that everyone understands the impact of their contributions.

Nonprofit volunteers come together not for monetary gain but because of a shared passion. With a solid team that knows how to work with each other, you better make a difference together.

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