4 Simple Steps You Can Take To Maximize Your Nonprofit Volunteer Program

Build a solid foundation for your nonprofit’s skilled volunteering program with these simple tips from GlobalGiving’s Celeste Hesketh.


I’m going to ask you a tough question. Is your nonprofit volunteer program effective?

As the Skilled Volunteering Manager at GlobalGiving, it’s my job to connect nonprofits with passionate business professionals who want to share their expertise, knowledge, and skills. I’m always on the hunt for volunteers who want to deliver marketing, strategy, human resources, and IT solutions to nonprofits. I’m a firm believer that utilizing the expertise and skills from the private sector can unlock the potential of resource-restricted nonprofits.

One of my co-workers, who helps companies like Gap, Google, and Hilton meet their global citizenship goals, has seen a rise in corporate interest in skilled volunteering. More and more frequently, companies that she works with only provide grants to nonprofits where employees are volunteers.

“Employees are vital stakeholders at every company, and you may be able to start a lasting partnership with employees that will open the door to other opportunities,” said Ingrid Embree, Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships at GlobalGiving.

So, how do you jumpstart your nonprofit’s skilled volunteering program? Keep these four practical tips in mind:

    1. Create meaning—and ensure the volunteer is fulfilling a real business need.

    What meaningful opportunities already exist for volunteers at your nonprofit? In a previous position at the Hispanic College Fund, Ingrid started a college application reviewing and mentorship program. “It was a win-win for everyone involved—the students, the employees, the company, and the fund,” Ingrid said.

    It’s important to consider not just your nonprofit’s needs, but also the needs of your volunteers. Sometimes, nonprofits can be so happy at the offer of support that they invent a need or tailor-make a new project to match the skills of the volunteer on offer. In some circumstances this can be effective, but it can also lead to a situation where a volunteer works hard to produce something, which then gets left on a shelf. This is a waste of resource on both sides and is very demotivating for the volunteer.

    2. Never underestimate what skilled professionals can offer.

    Big name tech companies, like Salesforce and Dell (just to name a few), run corporate volunteering programs that align with their corporate missions and areas of expertise.

    Deb Bauer, former Director of Strategic Giving and Community Engagement at Dell, told GlobalGiving that Dell invests in nonprofits that are willing to provide Dell employees with partnership opportunities. Fit is vital, Deb explained. Dell, for instance, searches for nonprofit partners who are already doing amazing things with technology and with additional resources could do even more.

    “When that happens of course it’s a huge win for the nonprofit because they can do something they do really well, but it’s a wonderful win for Dell because it allows our products to be showcased in a really important and impactful way,” she said.

    3. Cast a wide net.

    Use existing volunteer matching platforms to recruit. Taproot Foundation, LinkedIn For Good, and VolunteerMatch have extensive volunteer databases that you can tap into so you don’t have to start your search for skilled volunteers from scratch.

    4. Pay attention to regulations.

    Various state and federal laws may govern how your nonprofit can engage volunteers. Make sure your nonprofit volunteer program is in compliance. One overarching guideline: Never displace paid staff so that volunteers can fulfill their roles. For additional resources, check out The National Council for Voluntary Organisations and The National Council of Nonprofits.

Want more tips like this? Subscribe to get the best content from the Learn Library once a month.

Featured Photo: No Child Sidelined by Stichting Richard Krajicek Foundation

Get Free Tips + Tools in Your Inbox
Subscribe to get the best content from the Learn Library in your inbox once per month.
Meet Your New Fundraising Team
Join GlobalGiving for training and support tailored to you.

Looking for something specific?

Find exactly what you're looking for in our Learn Library by searching for specific words or phrases related to the content you need.

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.