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How To Engage And Inspire Volunteers

How To Engage And Inspire Volunteers
Written by shailesh@civihr.org - 03 Dec 2018 Category: Non-profit Challenges

A robust volunteer base can do wonders to a non-profit. Volunteers can be ambassadors, may bring funding, or even act as the much-needed helping hand for ad hoc tasks.

A robust volunteer base can do wonders to a non-profit. Volunteers can be ambassadors, may bring funding, or even act as the much-needed helping hand for ad hoc tasks. In an earlier article, we talked about addressing volunteer management challenges, but the subject is vast enough to necessitate more pondering. So, without further ado, let’s dwell further on effective ways to engage and inspire volunteers.
 

Before Recruiting Volunteers

A well-structured volunteering programme assigns different tasks to different volunteers, based on their skills. But are your collecting this information during recruitment? If not, you need to put some more thought into your volunteer recruitment process. Here are a few tips to get you started.

  • Ask for past experience, skills, and interests, so you can assign the most relevant tasks.
  • Ask for any preferences of location, availability (days and times), type of task etc, so you can match volunteers with the most suitable opportunities.
  • Ask how they learned about you and whether they can provide references to reach out to. This information is critical to ensure a continuous inflow of volunteering leads.

 
Just After Recruiting Volunteers

The first few volunteering activities are critical to cementing a long-lasting relationship. An effective onboarding experience ensures more engagement and loyalty on the part of volunteers. Here are a few steps that you can take to make the best first impression.
 

  • Provide comprehensive induction and training. It is essential for new volunteers to acquire necessary knowledge about assigned tasks and your non-profit to function well as an organisation’s member. 
  • Ensure that new volunteers have the tools and resources needed to perform. For a volunteer assigned the job of tele-calling for fundraising, you must ensure that the volunteer has the knowledge of the best practices and do’s-and-dont’s of tele-calling that the full-time members of your non-profit follow.
  • Help volunteers develop new skills. Many volunteers come onboard with a non-profit to contribute to a cause they feel passionate about. Many may not have the required proficiency for an assigned task. In such cases, a bit of training and mentoring will make a volunteer appreciate the opportunity to learn, while contributing.

 
During Volunteering Efforts

Smart recruitment and smooth onboarding are just the starting points. For a volunteer programme to succeed, volunteer engagement must be kept high during the actual volunteer work. A few points to take care of this area are listed below.

  • Build a variety of opportunities. Moving volunteers from one set of tasks to another will keep them involved and excited. This way, your non-profit can also receive assistance in a plethora of different areas.
  • Ensure timely supervision and mentoring to keep track of volunteers’ efforts and to guide them when in doubt. A Buddy System, as noted in an earlier article, will go a long way in ensuring that volunteering is easy and fun.
  • Assign clear objectives for volunteer tasks, so volunteers know what is expected from them. Volunteers may not be around to see the long-term benefits of their work, so objectives that can be immediately measured work the best. E.g. ‘Your assignment for today is to call 50 donors’ is an easily understood and measured assignment for a volunteer.

After Volunteering Efforts

If volunteers care enough about your non-profit to contribute with their time, efforts, and skills, it is essential that you reward their commitment formally. A few ways in which this can be done are listed below.

  • Sharing success stories with the wider public will encourage volunteers and make them more loyal to your non-profit. Social media can be effectively leveraged in this exercise.
  • There is no perfect volunteering programme and any scope of improvement needs to be explored. In that regard, proactively asking for feedback will make the volunteers feel involved and valued. 
  • Encouraging volunteers to spread the word about your non-profit will have a two-pronged benefit. Firstly, it will make volunteers feel more connected to your organisation, and secondly, it will create a good name for your non-profit in the long run.

 
Have you tried any of these tips at your non-profit? Do you have any experiences to share? We would love to hear from you. Please write to us @civi_hr.
 
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This post is the next in the series of addressing specific challenges non-profits face, and builds on top of earlier posts such as acquiring the right talent, employee retention strategies, and addressing volunteer management challenges.
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CiviHR is a philanthropic project funded by a charitable foundation, on a mission to create a best-in-class people management solution for organisations that deliver social good. You may read more here or sign up here for a trial.

10 Key HR Metrics for Nonprofits

10 Key HR Metrics for Non-profits
Written by shailesh@civihr.org - 20 Nov 2018 Category: Non-profit Challenges

HR Metrics are numbers that allow organisations to measure the effectiveness of people management practices and improve competitiveness as an employer. They are also known as scorecards, benchmarks, or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

HR Metrics are numbers that allow organisations to measure the effectiveness of people management practices and improve competitiveness as an employer. They are also known as scorecards, benchmarks, or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). HR Metrics are of particular importance to non-profits, who rely on human capital to drive their mission. Many non-profit are unaware of this need and hence we will demystify it for you.

 

How Will HR Metrics Help Me?

Metrics act as a goal.

If you are suffering from high attrition, you may want to keep the goal of ‘less than 10% turnover in the next 12 months’. Such a goal will force you to put in place measures to reduce attrition. Without an objective goal, even a well-crafted attrition reduction strategy will be difficult to measure.

Metrics help in managerial decisions.

If you observe that after rolling out your ‘Each One Teach One’ programme six months ago, the number of lessons delivered has increased 30%, it means that the programme has been a growth driver and must continue. Overlooking such metrics may result in haphazard decision making regarding the fate of the programme.

Metrics are a great team-engagement tool.

When organisational goals are numerically defined and known to the team, everyone understands how their work contributes to the overall objective. If your goal is to decrease first-year resignation rate by 10%, older employees are more likely to work closely with newer employees to mentor them and to resolve their concerns which may otherwise result in resignations.

 

Which HR Metrics Should I Track?

It is challenging to pick the exact set of metrics for any organisation. You should pick metrics that measure your goals or provide you with some insights about matters otherwise unknown. Metrics also depend on your mission. Metrics for a natural history museum’s subjective mission “to advance human understanding of science” are poles apart from a hospital’s objective mission “to provide medical care to patients suffering from dementia”. That being said, here are the top 10 HR metrics that will make sense to non-profits, when it comes to assessing people management practices.

Cost Per Hire

What does it cost you to hire one employee/one volunteer? The cost can be in terms of money, time, or efforts. You may want to compare the costs of different time periods or hiring practices.

Employee Retention Rate

Out of 100 employees hired, how many stay with me at the end of, say, one year? You may want to compare metrics with different time frames to know how your employees behave as they spend more time in your non-profit.  This is a key data point that can also be combined with other metrics, e.g. Employee Net Promoter Score, to gain advanced insights.

Average Tenure of Volunteers

Similar to the above metric, it is important to know how long a particular volunteer stays with you. Most non-profits have a significant number of volunteers, and it is useful to know how much productivity can be expected from an average volunteer.

The Ratio of Volunteers and Employees

How many volunteers do I have for 100 employees? Depending on the nature of your work, you may want to target a particular ratio. For example, for a hospital, which requires an employee base with special expertise, a low Volunteer/Employee ratio can be sufficient. In contrast, for a non-profit with a mission of environmental conservation, a high Volunteer/Employee ratio is of critical importance.

Demographics of Employees/Volunteers

It is critical to know the age, gender, education qualification, salary etc data for all your team. Non-profits must try to find trends in this data. For example, if you realise that 60% of your volunteers are females in the age group of 18-22, you know whom to target while growing your volunteer base.

Employee Satisfaction Rate/Employee Net Promoter Score

How likely are my employees to recommend me as an employer to their family and friends? This may be tricky data to capture, but frequent employee interaction and one-on-one meetings with managers can help non-profits come up with a reasonable estimate of this metric.

Absenteeism Rate

How many of my employees are absent on an average on any given day? Who are the employees with top 10% of leaves? This data can help non-profits identify the problem of regular absenteeism and deal with it in time.

NOTE: CiviHR’s Reports functionality allows non-profits to derive this insight from leave data. You may read more here or sign up here for a trial.

Training Effectiveness Rate

How many of my employees underwent training and are now competent in new areas? This metric is of much use during the appraisal process - to assess employee growth as well as training quality.

Percent of Performance Goals Met

Another key metric in the appraisal process is: how many of my employees met their performance targets identified at the start of the year/quarters? This data needs to be carefully tracked, but when available, it drastically simplifies the appraisal process.

Beneficiary Per Employee

This is a mission-driven metric. How many beneficiaries do I have for one employee? There may not be a direct relationship between the number of employees and beneficiaries, but over a period of time, this metric will allow you to see whether your growing team size is enabling you to contribute to more beneficiaries. This information can optimise your recruitment policies, as well as operations.

 

How Do I Get Started?

After identifying metrics that are suitable for your non-profit, it is now time to track them, with a start and end date in mind. It may take a bit of planning to implement data tracking as a regular practice, but the rewards are promising. So all the best with your first step in the direction of an optimally run non-profit team!

 

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This post is the next in the series of addressing specific challenges non-profits face, and builds on top of earlier posts such as acquiring the right talent, employee retention strategies., and workplace culture.

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CiviHR is a philanthropic project funded by a charitable foundation, on a mission to create a best-in-class people management solution for organisations that deliver social good. You may read more here or sign up here for a trial.

5 Best Onboarding Practices for Nonprofits

Efficient Onboarding is essential to convert new hires into loyal employees.
Written by shailesh@civihr.org - 06 Nov 2018 Category: Non-profit Challenges

Non-profits heavily rely on people to carry out their mission. How often do you feel that certain tasks are falling by the wayside just because your team member looking after them is no longer with you?

Non-profits heavily rely on people to carry out their mission. How often do you feel that certain tasks are falling by the wayside just because your team member looking after them is no longer with you? And such challenges are more mind-numbing when your team is fast changing because of high employee churn or when you have a huge number of volunteers. Luckily, a well-structured onboarding practice can help you convert new hires into loyal employees!

Why Is Onboarding Important?

  • Research suggests that the non-profit employee turnover rate is 19%.

  • A large percentage of this churn happens in the first three months.

  • New hires, when subjected to an efficient onboarding programme, are 69% more likely to remain in the company after three years.

  • A large percentage of non-profits work with volunteers for whom onboarding is the primary means of knowledge transfer.

What do all these facts suggest? It can be easily inferred that an effective onboarding practice can reduce team churn and associated recruitment costs, while also setting up your employees for long-term success, for themselves as well as your organisation. A good onboarding practice is the one that engages employees early on, builds trust, fosters relationships, and builds your organisation’s brand.

How Do I Build A Great Onboarding Practice?

Onboarding is often confused with orientation, which typically happens on the first few days and comprises of the task and team introduction. This is not sufficient - onboarding must involve open communication, frequent feedback and assessment, as well as the redressal of any concerns the new team member may have. This implies that onboarding needs to be a more structured, planned activity, much like a project. But don’t worry! It is not as challenging as it may seem in the beginning, so long as you stick to a few key principles.

Create an Onboarding Schedule

An effective onboarding plan keeps different timelines and priorities for different tasks. Logistics i.e. email set up, desk assignment, paperwork etc are the highest priority for Day 1 and must typically be completed in the first three days. Team orientation, project details, reporting mechanism etc need to be considered next and must start in the first week. Company history, values, mission, objectives etc are important too, but can wait for the more immediate items to get over. This is just one way of looking at it - how you want to structure onboarding items is entirely up to you, but the key is to have a structure and follow it.

Make it Personal

Onboarding needs to be made personal. The overarching idea is to make new team members feel welcome and valued. Talk to them as individuals, and get to know their stories, family background, personal goals etc. Talk about yourself and your role, and tell them what you like about the organisation and its people. You may also want to give them some insider tips, facts, and jokes, to make them feel like one of your own. And yes, be creative; after all, it is a human-to-human interaction that we are talking about!

Create a Buddy System

Since the onboarding process can go over a long time - typically six months or even a year - it is impossible for one individual to keep track of everything. So to delegate tasks and also to foster genuine peer relationships, establish a Buddy system. Assign a Buddy to a new employee - a Buddy is typically a peer who works closely with new hires and helps them whenever they get stuck. A Buddy is not necessarily a Manager or a Mentor or even someone with greater position or authority - a Buddy is purely a helping hand so the new member does not feel lost. The system can do wonders in terms of building your organisation’s culture.

Review the Onboarding Process At Regular Intervals

An onboarding process, however well structured in theory, will not work unless it is measured and corrected at regular intervals. After a week of a new member joining, you may want to check if all the logistics are taken care of. If not, evaluate where the gap is and fix it for the next time. Repeat the assessment after a week, a month, three months, whatever timelines you decide. Have an open discussion with the employee after three months. What does he/she feel, like, dislike? What does he/she think needs improvement? These may not be official or one-time conversations. Just titbits of watercooler chats can do the job as well.

Use Technology

And yes, use technology to do all of the above! As mentioned earlier, onboarding is a regular exercise, always a work in progress, and needs to be planned well. Keep track of all onboarding items via a tracking tool. Delegate desk assignment to the Office Manager, assign email creation task to the IT Team, apprise the Manager of the new member’s joining date, ensure that all the paperwork is completed by Day 3, let the Buddy know about his tasks during Week 1, schedule an informal interview after a month! See how the onboarding checklist suddenly bulges into a huge to-do list? You don’t want to miss any of these items though, so ensure that you use an effective technology tool. One tool we recommend is CiviHR’s workflows, which is particularly aligned with standardised tasks such as onboarding processes, among other things. (You may read more here or sign up here.)

Lastly, you need to understand that onboarding is not the sole responsibility of the HR or the Manager; it is an organisational practice. The more thoughts your team puts into the onboarding process, the better it will evolve to be. For now, however, the above pointers are a great starting place!

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This post is the next in the series of addressing specific challenges non-profits face, and builds on top of earlier posts such as acquiring the right talent, employee retention strategies., and workplace culture.

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CiviHR is a philanthropic project funded by a charitable foundation, on a mission to create a best-in-class people management solution for organisations that deliver social good. You may read more here or sign up here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

About CiviHR

CiviHR is a project to create affordable HR software for non-profit organisations. By developing open source technology the benefits can be shared with non-profits everywhere.

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CiviHR is a project to create affordable HR software for non-profit organisations. By developing open source technology the benefits can be shared with non-profits everywhere. 

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