Nonprofit Volunteerism: How your nonprofit can successfully utilize volunteers

  • 14 January 2019
Nonprofit Volunteerism: How your nonprofit can successfully utilize volunteers

Nonprofit Volunteerism: How your nonprofit can successfully utilize volunteers

A large portion of the nonprofit space in 2018 is increasingly reliant on volunteers for the operation of organizational work or has recruited volunteers in the past to fill these positions. With the competition for talent continually increasing within the professional fields, it is essential for nonprofits to capitalize on the volunteer workforce. According to a survey conducted by Deloitte, of the HR executives related to the hiring process surveyed, 88% believed that volunteerism benefitted brand perception in addition to developing volunteer skill sets. This also carried over to the hiring process, as organizations are recognizing volunteerism as a significant credential when considering potential employees.

Although studies have shown that the benefits of volunteerism are tangible and are mutually beneficial to both the individual and the organization, nearly half of the respondents to the 2016 Deloitte Impact Survey indicated that there weren’t currently any volunteer opportunities provided at their organization. As of April 2018, the estimated value of volunteer time per hour is at a staggering $24.69; If your organization is not providing open opportunities for volunteers, you are missing out on a substantial resource.

When recruiting a new wave of volunteers it is critical for your organization to screen candidates effectively and thoroughly. Not only does this allow your organization to perform background checks, but is also the first opportunity your organization has at getting to know the volunteers on an individual level. Volunteer screening acts as a risk reduction strategy, as although volunteers aren’t paid employees, they represent your organization all the same. The screening process provides the confidence that your volunteers are able to safely provide the services requested. This is especially helpful if your organization serves vulnerable populations such as the elderly, children, and disabled persons, but also applies to non-client-facing roles. The 2017 Volunteer Screening Trends Report by Verified Volunteers shows that not only does screening reduce legal liability risks but also increases your reputation and public image. The report follows the 2016 Sterling Talent Solutions survey, which was the largest survey conducted among the American population regarding background checks, this survey found:

  • “95% of respondents believe in mandatory criminal background checks”
  • “84% believed that the safety provided by background checks is more important than an applicant’s right to refuse a background check.”

These results indicate that failure to conduct these background checks may impact your reputation as the public opinion supports the effort to screen and verify volunteers, even at the cost of volunteer privacy. Verified Volunteer’s 2017 report shows an expected increase in the number of background checks in addition to increased spending. This data is reflected in their updated 2018 screening trends report where all renewal screening rates have increased in comparison to the previous year.

Deloitte had also conducted a 2017 Volunteerism Survey following their previous 2016 impact survey, which surveyed those who had volunteered in the past year. Their findings supported the results of the report done by Verified Volunteers, which not only supported background checks but also found that public opinion has favored companies who provide volunteer opportunities. Deloitte’s survey found that 90% of respondents indicated they believed “companies who sponsor volunteer activities offer a better overall working environment than those who do not”, with 70% agreeing that “sponsors who sponsor volunteer activities have a more pleasant work atmosphere.”

Given this information, it is clear that the implementation of a volunteer program within your organization would not only benefit the organization in terms of talent but also help the volunteers build marketable skills and experience all while improving the public perception of your organization.

Volunteers are often the majority of the workforce at many nonprofit organizations; further understanding volunteer motivation, personalities, and management are critical to the formation of an engagement and retention strategy. For more information about understanding your volunteers, subscribe and download our guide below:


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