episodic volunteers

November 30, 2023

Episode #86: Converting Episodic Volunteers into Long-term Supporters

In this episode, host Tobi Johnson talks about the challenge of retaining episodic volunteers who step up to help during the holiday season but often disappear afterwards. Tobi shares a 4-part culture of commitment formula that sets the stage for deeper levels of commitment, discusses the importance of creating a purposeful onboarding plan even for one-time volunteers, and gives strategies for delegating, leading with ease, and using storytelling to share volunteer results.

Tobi also delves into the concept of journey mapping, exploring the volunteer experience from start to finish, and poses insightful questions to help you assess and improve your volunteer strategy. Join us for an insightful discussion on how to keep episodic volunteers engaged and turn them into long-term supporters.

Episodic Volunteers – The Culture of Commitment Formula

Creating a culture of commitment within your organization, using Tobi’s four-part culture of commitment formula, sets the stage for deeper levels of volunteer commitment. This includes creating purposeful staffing plans, effective onboarding and placement strategies, clear delegation and leadership techniques, and harnessing the power of storytelling and sharing results the help episodic volunteers see the true value of their work.

Episodic Volunteers – Key Questions to Ask

Tobi also poses several key questions to consider as you design for the retention and experiences of episodic volunteers. These include: Are they greeted immediately when they arrive? Are things SUPER organized? Does everyone on your team understand (and are evaluated on) their role in supporting volunteers? Do they understand your mission, truly? Do they understand what happens with (and without) volunteer support (the consequences of inaction)? Did you (or your team) make a personal connection (before, during, after)? and more!  Rather, with each question, Tobi elaborates on tactics to ensure true connections are forged between your organization and episodic volunteers.

Volunteer Goals – Show Highlights

0:23.8 Tobi introduces the episode and why episodic volunteers is a timely topic
1:51.6   She introduces her 4 part culture of commitment formula
2:27.5  The first thing is building a purposeful staffing plan
3:10.4  The second thing is onboarding and placing volunteers
5:02.3  The third thing is to delegate and lead with ease
6:20.8  The fourth thing is storytelling and sharing results
10:15.1 Tobi shares key questions and tips for converting episodic volunteers

Volunteer Goals – Quotes from the Episode

“You really have to have a purposeful onboarding plan even for episodic one time volunteers, because you never know, they might want to come back year in year out for that one event. They might want to become a supporter.”

“Ask for an expect followed through from volunteers and support them every step of the way. This is about really clear communications.”

“We don’t often think about episodic volunteers as needing any kind of onboarding. We just bring them on board, show up and let’s get to work, but there’s a plenty you could do to educate people before they even step foot in your organization.”

“Use storytelling and share results of their work. Part of it is an appreciation and gratitude strategy, but it’s also about really helping people reflect on how important their contribution has been, even if it’s only been for a day.”

“people need to know that there are boundaries and barriers on what they’re committing to. When people make a financial contribution to your nonprofit, they don’t just give you a blank check and say, Hey, go ahead and put whatever you want in there.”

“Do your episodic volunteers have fun? Are they having fun? Are they laughing? Are they smiling? If they’re not, you’ve got to make some changes because people don’t want to do stuff in their leisure time that’s not fun.”

“people need to be seen and heard. They need to know that they’re not just another cog in the machine.”

Want More? Check out Our Time + Talent Podcast!

Whether you’re looking for solutions, inspiration, or just want to hear what others are doing to successfully engage volunteers, Time + Talent is the podcast for leaders of volunteers.

Co-hosts Tobi Johnson, MA, CVA and Jennifer Bennett, CVA bring you uplifting and insightful conversations with thought leaders and volunteer management practitioners who are redefining their roles, and the roles of volunteers.


About the Show

Nonprofit leadership author, trainer, consultant, and volunteer management expert Tobi Johnson shares weekly tips to help charities build, grow, and scale exceptional volunteer teams. Discover how your nonprofit can effectively coordinate volunteers who are reliable, equipped, and ready to help you bring about BIG change for the better.

If you’re ready to ditch the stress and harness the power of people to fuel your good work, you’re in exactly the right place!

Contact Us

Have questions or suggestions for the show? Email us at wecare@volpro.net.

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