Volunteer Incentives and Engagement Ideas That Won’t Cost Your Organization A Dime | Track It Forward

Volunteer Incentives and Engagement Ideas That Won’t Cost Your Organization A Dime

Last updated by Kasey Murphy on 10/07/2021

We know budgeting is tough, everyone faces a time when they wish they could give their volunteers more, but they just cannot do much with a limited amount of money.

But, we have some ideas that you might be able to do or you might be able to feel creative and spark some more ideas for your volunteer program! Volunteer engagement is such an important step in volunteer management. 

If volunteer engagement is something you are struggling with, we highly recommend checking out this post to find strategic tips for making volunteer engagement a priority. 

5 Areas of Concern When It Comes To Creating Volunteer Incentives and Producing Volunteer Engagement
When you are working on volunteer engagement or providing volunteer incentives - remember these five categories that volunteer incentives and engagement activities should fall under! 

Foster The Volunteer Environment Make sure your volunteer environment is one that looks appealing, as well as the community built between your volunteers.

Take Advantage of Virtual Tools 
You can't say you've tried everything to get your volunteers involved until you have looked at all the options - especially those on the internet! 

It seems simple enough, but are you really recognizing your volunteers for the work they are doing? 

Volunteer Impact 
Volunteers will be motivated if they know how their work is really affecting the organization! 

Skill Building
Are the volunteers learning new things? Do they feel inspired and challenged? This can help! 

If you are unsure how to do these things, keep reading our article for some ideas! 
If you are unsure how to track your volunteers - check out our software program!

Foster The Community 

Many people donate time because they want to make new friends or feel a greater sense of community. Volunteers tend to understand life as an interconnected system and seek ways to strengthen bonds with others. Managers of volunteers can consciously cultivate an engaged, healthy social space. 

Here are some examples of how you can help foster the community feel of your volunteer program for enhanced volunteer engagement: 

  • Whenever there is a meeting, make sure you or someone is helping encourage volunteer mingling and getting conversations started.

  • Ask some volunteers or employees to offer childcare at events

  • Make meetings themed so people can dress up or bring fun accessories 

  • Start each meeting with a game and a check-up conversation 

  • Encourage volunteers to bring their friends and family to events 

Be patient! Creating an environment where strangers feel like friends is hard and does not happen overnight. Keep pushing and providing a great fun vibe and the rest should follow! This is an indirect type of volunteer engagement that will lead to volunteers feeling excited to volunteer. 

Take Advantage of Virtual Tools 

There are so many different tools and websites that you can have fun with to provide virtual tools and ways for volunteers to feel engaged with the organization while online and at home! 

These are some example opportunities you can look into for virtual volunteer engagement:

  • Create a Facebook Group for your volunteers - post funny stories, updates within the organization, and conversation topics! 

  • Host Virtual Meetings with Guest Speakers - Guest Speakers are a great idea, you can often find speakers who are happy to volunteer their time for free. Look into articles you like, those who are experts in your organization’s mission, or even something fun like a guest chef to help teach fun recipes! 

  • Start a Volunteer Newsletter - Do a weekly or monthly newsletter giving updates, quick quizzes, or even a volunteer spotlight showcasing volunteers and more information about them! 

  • Have volunteers do a social media takeover - volunteers can post on your organization’s behalf for a day and see what they come up with! 

Recognition is A Volunteer Incentive, Too! 

People actually do like to be recognized! And, in addition, pople will feel more inclined to keep volunteering if they see that you recognize them, their work, and feel special. Recognition is a very simple free way to increase volunteer incentivation and eventually engage volunteers more! 

Some creative ways to recognize volunteers are: 

  • By saying a simple thank you at a meeting telling other volunteers of a specific or group of volunteers hard work! 

  • Or for more shy volunteers - write a nice letter or email to them! 

  • Create a leaderboard for volunteers who help out the most or have volunteered the most hours. This can be in the organization or online! 

Make Volunteer Impact Visible For Max Volunteer Engagement 

Many volunteers feel connected to the organization and the mission. Sometimes, volunteers have an indirect connection to helping the organization, but it is still nice to showcase how they are helping! One of the best ways to incentivize volunteers is to show them how much of an impact they are making on something important. 

Check out these ideas for showcasing volunteer impact: 

  • Create a bulletin board in a meeting area that shows success towards an organization-wide goal like money raised, or people helped in a month. 

  • Write blog posts on the organization’s success and try to link it back to certain volunteer events that might have boosted the progress. This will help incentivize volunteers to go to more events! Bonus points if you take pictures at events or post this blog on social media! 

  • After each event and for each sign-up for a volunteer event - explain why it is important and what the event will be helping the organization with.

Have Volunteers Do New Tasks To Build New Skills and Engage Volunteers

Some volunteers may be new or might not know how to do some tasks, which prohibits them from signing up or coming back to volunteer. A lot of volunteers might want to try new things in order to feel important, avoid burnout, or just stay interested! 

Different Ways To Have Volunteers Build New Skillsets

  • Have individual meetings with each volunteer asking them if there is something they are interested in doing, or would like to learn more about doing within the organization. Then, let them know that they can easily attend an info session on the different activity! 

  • Send out a virtual quiz that will match volunteers with their most-wanted task. This is a great way for you to learn what volunteers feel like they are good at and what they want to do more of! This doesn’t put them on the spot and can give them something to look forward to, which will be engaging for them. 

  • Have volunteers complete different tasks at each event. If there are recurring events, make sure volunteers go through a circulation of tasks! 

The best ways to be a great volunteer engagement and incentive provider is to constantly be in touch with your volunteers, and be motivating. Remember the reasons that the volunteers are there - to help, to feel important, to be social, and to build skills. Then, act on these wants and be creative! 

Stay motivational and understanding thorughout all of the processes and you will see that you are engaging your volunteers plenty!