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Transforming Your Volunteers into Advocates: 4 Takeaways

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People in the United States spend an average of 52 hours per year volunteering. Their reasons for giving their time vary, with research suggesting that some people volunteer to build their skill set while others find it gives them a greater sense of purpose or connects them with a community of like-minded people.

Regardless of each individual’s reason for volunteering, as a volunteer coordinator, it’s your job to cultivate their connection to your cause. If you succeed, you’ll be on your way to expanding your impact with a growing group of supporters who further your mission through advocacy.

In this guide, we’ll discuss four ways to elevate your volunteer’s investment in your cause and rally more supporters. Let’s begin!

Assess your volunteer experience

If a volunteer has a positive experience at your nonprofit, they’re more likely to share it with their friends and family. To ensure each volunteer has a good experience with your nonprofit, walk through how a volunteer usually gets started and continues to serve at your organization. Then, amend any outdated, unhelpful, or inconvenient processes.

For instance, Funds2Orgs’ volunteer recruitment guide recommends surveying your current supporters to assess your program’s health. You can start by asking questions like:

Recruitment-related questions:

  • Why did you choose to volunteer with our organization?
  • How did you hear about our volunteer opportunities?

Onboarding and preparation questions:

  • Were the volunteer responsibilities clearly defined?
  • Did you receive adequate training and preparation for your current role?

Sentiment questions:

  • Do you have a clear understanding of the impact of your volunteer work?
  • Do you feel supported and encouraged by staff and other volunteers?
  • Would you recommend volunteering with our organization to others? Why or why not?

Carefully format these questions to keep the surveys quick and informative. In a survey using the questions listed above, you might use multiple choices for the recruitment-related questions, a scale of one to five for the onboarding questions, and a written response for the sentiment questions.

Then, gather feedback and make necessary changes. For example, if the results indicate that there is too much overlap between positions, you might decide to edit your volunteer best practice guide to clarify the duties for each role, so everyone is kept on the same page.

Volunteers enjoying a relationship-building activity.

Create relationship-building opportunities

Double the Donation’s volunteer statistics indicate 35% of individuals volunteer to socialize. That said, your volunteer community plays a significant role in advancing your advocacy efforts. However, if your volunteer base is smaller or meets on an inconsistent basis, it can be difficult to foster a thriving, friendly volunteer community.

To combat this, there are a few strategies that your organization can employ to draw more interested volunteers in and keep them coming back:

  • Collaborations with similar organizations. Host an educational seminar or fun fundraising challenge event with another like-minded organization. For instance, a homeless shelter could team up with a food pantry to combine resources and double brand exposure.
  • Networking opportunities. Expand your organization’s networking community by attending events, conferences, and online platforms to encourage like-minded volunteers to get to know one another.
  • Family-friendly community hangouts. Host community-oriented events to spread the word about your organization and encourage volunteers to invite their friends and family. Whether it’s a kid-friendly fundraising field day or a fun, unstructured community hike, hosting these events will give your current volunteer base room to invite their friends.

Above all, remember to show gratitude for your current volunteers. This will strengthen their relationship with your staff and make them feel appreciated for going the extra mile. A dedicated volunteer appreciation event is a great opportunity for current volunteers to build lasting relationships and bond over their shared commitment.

Encourage ownership

Volunteers who take ownership of their hard work feel greater pride when speaking about your organization. Their personal stories can be compelling testimonials for other like-minded people in their network.

However, to encourage ownership, your nonprofit needs to balance autonomy with support. This means you could give a long-term volunteer a higher-stakes role, such as leading an environmental clean-up day. On the flip side, you can offer new volunteers shadowing opportunities to help them decide which position best suits their interests and abilities.

Other common volunteer-led opportunities you can promote include:

  • Social media challenges. Prompt your volunteers to host a “Day in the Life” social media update where they film their day-to-day volunteer tasks and share what inspires them to keep volunteering with you. Or, share a “meet our volunteers'' video where volunteers share their favorite parts of your organization.
  • Community outreach events. Equip volunteers to lead community outreach events at churches, schools, and businesses to share your mission and inform others about how they can get involved. If necessary, conduct a few practice runs to ensure everyone feels comfortable and ready to share.
  • Educational workshops. Encourage volunteers to host educational workshops for those that would like to learn more about your cause. This could mean having student volunteers discuss the importance of offering after-school tutoring programs or encouraging animal shelter volunteers to lead an animal cruelty prevention workshop.

While encouraging ownership should be a priority, be sure to remain communicative, supportive, and transparent about what you’re asking from your volunteers.

In some cases, a committed volunteer might want to take charge of more to-dos than planned. If your budget allows, you could consider bringing that volunteer on staff part-time to show your appreciation and encourage their efforts. With your help, volunteers will be able to spread your mission by speaking from a personal, hands-on experience.

Two volunteers shaking hands.

Provide consistent support

Each of your volunteers has different needs and preferences. To keep individual volunteers thriving, learn what they need and how you can provide it.

Remember to communicate regularly. Use email newsletters, online platforms, and scheduling software to establish a consistent cadence your volunteers can count on. Choose an option that can scale with your organization as it grows.

Keep a library of resources handy. If a volunteer needs to brush up on your nonprofit’s beginnings or wants to know more about a new program, online resources are a great help. Publish blog updates regularly, so they can find what they need and encourage others to conduct their own research.



Your volunteers are the hands and feet of your nonprofit’s cause. To deepen their connection and tap into more engaged support, follow the above strategies and enhance your overall experience. This way, volunteers can promote your organization in an inspiring and positive way.

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