Online tools make fostering a connection with your virtual volunteers easy and meaningful.
Does connecting online sound impersonal to you? It doesn’t have to! Embracing technology and virtual volunteering doesn’t mean old-fashioned community and recognition should go out the window. New tools and resources can make connection easier and just as meaningful as connecting in-person.
In this series, we’ve shown that no matter your challenge, there is an online tool to help you solve it:
- Part 1: Identifying roadblocks preventing volunteers from engaging.
- Part 2: Upgrading recruitment efforts to make volunteers opportunities more attractive.
- Part 3: Showing commitment to your volunteers through personal and professional growth.
When it comes to retaining your volunteers, online platforms and tools can be powerful resources to show your volunteers that you care. Here are three ways to harness technology to build community, show recognition and create purposeful events for your volunteers:
It’s time for you to become a matchmaker. Volunteers want to network, socialize and find friends. Your organization will become even more valued by your volunteers if you take part in facilitating personal and professional connections. Online community based platforms can be a good avenue to connecting your senior volunteers with new volunteers to share best practices and support each other. Social media sites like Facebook or LinkedIn now provide group page features for professionals in the same industry to connect, share and find answers.
Leverage these tools to bring volunteers together and give them a sense of community:
Slack: Collaboration hub for volunteers to message, share files, and search previous content.
GroupMe: Free group messaging app for real-time conversations.
Higher Logic: Online community platform to increase volunteer awareness, engagement, growth and retention.
Your volunteers should feel appreciated by the people they serve and your organization. Saying and showing that you are thankful can pave the way for a long-lasting relationship with your volunteer. This doesn’t have to mean extravagant gestures or costly gifts. Small, purposeful expressions can make a big impact.
Curated, personal gifts can feel special and show the recipient that you’ve spent time to find something meaningful (e.g. Etsy boxes or personalized organization swag). Personal notes also show gratitude, whether it’s a thank-you card or another significant milestone. An unexpected card or gift-card is a tangible display of thoughtfulness.
Social recognition can be a powerful tool in acknowledging your volunteer’s efforts. Who doesn’t love to see the impact their work has made? Make use of your social media channels to express your appreciation. Here is a short list of post ideas that you can incorporate now:
- Share a Q&A with your volunteers – why they give their time, powerful volunteer moments they’ve had, or what events they most look forward to
- Honor a volunteer of the week, month or year
- Highlight an event and the difference your volunteers made
- Share thank you messages from chapters
Leverage these tools to save you time and show volunteers your appreciation:
Handwrytten: Automated cards to save time while increasing recognition.
Sendoso: Automated gifting service.
Giftcards.com: Free automated gift card service.
Virtual Leadership Conferences
Virtual conferences allow volunteers to attend remote sessions and events right from their computer or phone. Online leadership conferences can foster an environment where every member of your organization is able to contribute. They encourage relationship building and a sense of community for your volunteers. They can also be more affordable than finding a venue, providing food and reimbursing travel.
Modern platforms can give these experiences a “real-life” feel. There are tools available to design conference websites where you can live-stream, host discussion forums, and share webinars. Online event production companies are gaining in popularity. Story-tellers, content planners, and content writers come together to help you find speakers. They book speakers to present virtually, pre-record sessions, and then build a colorful conference around it without the stress of real-time presentation.
Leverage this tool to facilitate an entirely online conference and educational experience:
Matchbox Virtual Media: Event production platform for online leadership conferences.