Empowering and Engaging Your Volunteer Community

In my last post, I spoke about knowing who your people are and how to best connect with them using social media.

A big part of your tribe? Your volunteers.


Let’s take things a bit further and discuss why these folks need to connect both to your cause and to each other and, more importantly, how you can make that happen.

Start with awareness.

What’s going on with your nonprofit organization?

Share why people should care enough to want to involve themselves in supporting your activities.

What’s your story? What’s the driving force behind your campaigns and cause?

Let us know!

For example, as a Class of 1972 Cradle Alumnus (“Cradle Baby”), I  serve on The Cradle Associates Board. It was a social media update about an Alumni Reunion that sparked my getting more involved.

Make it easy to participate.

How can we help?

Where and when will your events will be?

Both Facebook and Eventbrite boast terrific platforms for doing just so.

Connect with volunteers as individuals.

What causes keep your communities up at night?

Find commonalities in how they want to contribute and how this can help your cause and mission.

How might they resist? No time? No money?

Use this insight to consider how to make it easy for them to help you out.

I’ll never forget the honesty and transparency shared by the former Executive Director of Mainstreet Libertyville at an annual meeting, “If we can’t have your time, then we’ll gladly take your money.” She then boasted our several annual events and the volunteer opportunities available to support them.

Use social media to listen.

Who amongst the volunteer community is talking? What are they talking about?

What’s their influence in the community?

Are they local business owners? Perennial donors and supporters? Local media? Civic leaders?

What are the key conversations and themes?

Advocacy? Fundraising? Board Recruitment? Events?

Check out “Technographics” for more tips and insights on who’s online and how and why they’re participating.

Educate volunteers on what you do with their support.

Lake County Haven. This is probably the most robust and consistent volunteer support that I have seen a local nonprofit acknowledge on their Facebook page.

If you provide Volunteer Training, then let them know where and when.

Example: Animal Education and Rescue.

Share your organizations amassed Volunteer Hours:

Share your organizations: mission, structure, events and policies.

Then, involve them.

Give your volunteers access to special “V.I.P.” events and “S.W.A.G”: Hats, T-Shirts, Buttons, etc.

Let them post and share their self-generated content on your social sites. Let them tag themselves at events and in event photos. Let them check-in at events and meetings. Better yet? Let them live stream!

Speaking of, is your organization hosting virtually? Zooms? Facebook Lives? Twitter Chats?

Engage them.

Empower them.

As my friend Tim McDonald says, “It’s about the we.”


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