Engaging Volunteers in the Off-Season
Our 550 volunteers are the lifeblood of our organization. It’s important to make them feel like a part of AccountAbility Minnesota and the team not only during tax season but during the off-season, too. Year-round volunteer engagement can help increase retention, participation in fundraising, and assistance in recruiting other volunteers.
Below are a few examples of things we do. We’d love to hear what you do, too. Please share any engagement ideas you have in the comments section at the end of this post.
Keep them volunteering over the summer: We balance recruiting new “off-season volunteers” with enlisting the help our “tax-season volunteers” who didn’t get enough during the tax season. Each year, we ask tax-season volunteers to take a shift or two during the summer and fall and a good handful take us up on it. Having them volunteer during the off-season not only enables them to keep up on their tax skills, it keeps them connected our organization.
Recognize their efforts: After tax season ends, we hold a large recognition event for all volunteers. This year we went to a minor league baseball game and held a barbeque beforehand. More than 100 volunteers showed up and many brought friends or family. Not only does this type of event recognize our volunteers, it introduces others to the organization and allows them to see why people get involved with us. If we’re lucky, we get a spouse or two to volunteer with us!
Stay in touch with relevant news and updates: While we significantly reduce the number of e-communications with volunteers during the off season, we use the monthly e-newsletter to keep our work top-of-mind. Our e-newsletters will often contain summaries of the off-season, customer and volunteer stories, and policy updates.
Invite volunteers to help out with other initiatives: Do you have any volunteers at your organization who really stand out? Many volunteers are deeply passionate and interested in getting involved in other ways. At AAM, we have a Volunteer Leadership Committee comprised of two dozen of our most dedicated volunteers. They meet in the off-season to help us with volunteer recruitment, engagement activities, and fundraising. It’s a way to deepen relationships with volunteers, pull upon other assets they have and strengthen the organization!
Solicit their feedback: In the summer, we solicit feedback from our volunteers on everything from their individual experience to training to fundraising through an online survey and focus groups. Both have influenced and improved many aspects of our training and tax program. Also, we often share new ideas with volunteers as a way to ensure we implement them successfully.
By Adam Faitek, AccountAbility Minnesota