Having taught hundreds of volunteer coordinators, I have found that many do not have a plan for the year. So with this year coming to an end and a new year around the corner, it is time to plan for 2014.
Using the volunteer management cycle to frame your plan, where do you want to go next year?
Do you have a marketing plan, do you know when is the best time to recruit from different sectors of the community? For example the best time to recruit university students is September and January and March, before exams. Once students start studying for exams they are no longer looking for volunteer work and once exams are done, they are no longer accessing school websites until fall.
High school students are looking in the fall, January and then in May when they realize that they need to do hours by end of year.
Corporations have cycles as well, so you need to find out when the best time is for them. Fall is usually a good time for them to start thinking about volunteering and summer is one of the worst times.
Once you have built a recruitment plan, you can start populating when the best time is to recruit based on your volunteer needs cycle.
Retaining volunteers can also have a cycle, again based on when you need volunteers and what type of training and supervision that they need, you can build in a variety of training, education and communication that you want to coordinate for your volunteers. There are many ways to retain volunteers and using a variety of tools based on the types of volunteers that you have, will impact each group differently. One idea is to provide an educational session to a recognition event. Volunteers love to learn and providing them with a way to both be thanked and learn at the same time, is a great retention tool.
These are just a few ideas that you can implement to strategically plan for a successful volunteer program. For more information, you can also contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more ideas.