Five Tips for Making Your Volunteer Program Part of Your Brand

August 23, 2011


Dan Pallotta writes about nonprofit issues for the Harvard Business Review. He recently wrote about the difference between a logo and a brand. A logo is something that is easily recognizable while a brand is something that permeates everything that your organization does. Your brand is even part of your volunteer program.

Your call to action in your volunteer program. It may seem obvious to have a call to action built into your volunteer program, but how does what you’re asking volunteers to do relate to your organization’s overall call to action? An animal welfare organization may have multiple volunteer positions, but if it can’t articulate how each of the positions relates to its mission, some of the positions may be harder to fill than others. Being able to demonstrate how each volunteer position supports the organization’s goal makes them more attractive to volunteers who support your organization’s mission.

Customer service in your volunteer program. You might not think of customer service when it comes to volunteer recruitment and retention, but it’s an important part of any volunteer program. From having an easy way to move from being interested in volunteering to being a volunteer, to knowing when to show up to volunteer, to simply being available to ask questions about volunteering, good customer service helps to support your volunteer program. Volunteers who have a a positive experience volunteering will tell their friends about their experience and be an advocate for your cause. Volunteers who have a negative experience volunteering will tell their friends, too.

How you talk about your volunteer program. How you talk about your volunteer program reflects on your organization. If your volunteer program is mentioned as an afterthought, then it affects how people outside of your program look at the program. It also affects how your volunteers look at the program. Highlight the work of volunteers whenever you can to show what an important part of the organization they are.

Your people in your volunteer program. The volunteers that serve with your organization are as public as any other part of your organization. Your volunteer program shouldn’t have an ‘any warm body’ approach to volunteer recruitment. There should be a screening process that ensures that you recruit volunteers that are passionate about your cause and are able to do the tasks that are asked of them. If they don’t know how to do the task, make sure you’re able to teach them how to do it well.

Your home for your volunteer program. Where your organization’s volunteer program lives reflects on your program and the organization. Do you ask your volunteers to work together with staff, or is there a “volunteer office” in a corner somewhere that staff don’t normally go? Is the volunteer office really a storage closet?


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