Dedicated volunteers are the backbone of successful fundraising efforts. Pulling off a school fundraising idea ultimately relies on the hard work of families, guardians, and school staff. Plus, school fundraisers allow kids to connect with a cause and give back to their community. Who wouldn’t want the world’s next leaders to participate in fun, meaningful service?

Volunteering is the perfect way to bridge social divisions and make unexpected friendships. Volunteerism is a powerful force for empathy and mutual understanding amidst rising cultural, political, and economic divides. 

However, organizing and managing volunteers can be a hassle. It can be a challenge to rally and train volunteers with busy schedules. To simplify your volunteer management process, here are some top tips: 

  1. Make volunteer expectations clear.
  2. Provide context.
  3. Create a volunteer guide.
  4. Ask for feedback.

A streamlined volunteer welcome and training process will help your school recruit and retain valuable volunteers. Passionate and informed volunteers eventually become ambassadors for your school’s values, so taking the time to inform them is an absolute must. 

1. Make volunteer expectations clear.

Be as clear and concise as possible when describing volunteer expectations. Briefly communicate your volunteer expectations ahead of each opportunity to avoid confusion. Depending on the details of your fundraising event, a short training session might be preferable to excessive emails. 

Other fundraisers may require you to communicate more specific volunteer expectations. For example, if you are putting together a sports-related fundraiser and need volunteer referees, be sure to brief your volunteers on their referee responsibilities.

If you aren’t sure which volunteer expectations to include, here is a short list to reference: 

  • The date and time they’re needed.
  • The location of the volunteer opportunity.
  • How much time they should expect to spend volunteering.
  • Any supplies they’ll need to bring.
  • What they’ll be doing. 

Most volunteers will be parents or guardians within your school community. Be respectful of their time by highlighting all the need-to-know details and keeping your training materials brief and to the point. 

2. Provide context.

Volunteers of all ages and backgrounds like to know why they are doing what they are doing. When you provide a clear reason for your fundraising efforts, volunteers and donors are likelier to get on board and participate.

Let volunteers know how their efforts fit your school’s overall mission and goals. Inform them of how your fundraising efforts reflect your school’s values in action. After all, parents and guardians choose your school for a reason.

How is your fundraising event benefiting your academic community? Why does this specific fundraiser make a difference? Whether your fundraiser is geared towards supporting the arts or funding your athletics program, let your volunteers know. In short, connect volunteer work to direct impact.

Share data and statistics that reveal the importance of their work. No one can argue with numbers. If your fundraiser is annual, refer to your previous performance indicators to share why their continued efforts matter. 

3. Create a volunteer guide.

Guides are spectacular resources for busy volunteers. Hopefully, your guide answers all your volunteer’s questions or gives them the tools to find the answers they need. Volunteer guides do not need to be lengthy, but they should be updated with the latest information. Both digital and paper copies are useful to reference. 

This guide can include the following:

  • Contact information for your volunteer leader. If a volunteer cannot locate time-sensitive information, make it easy for them to contact the appropriate volunteer leader. Indicate your communication preferences (such as email, phone, or text), so your volunteers know the best way to reach you. 
  • Volunteer code of conduct. You should include volunteer norms, expectations and values in a short section of your volunteer guide. For instance, if your volunteers work with any students with disabilities, provide a detailed course of action or recommended best practice section.
  • Information about how to track volunteer hours. Volunteers often do not track their hours because they do not know how to or simply do not understand the necessity. Remind your volunteers that tracking their hours can translate into valuable grant opportunities for your school. Using the right volunteer management software can make this process painless.
  • Fundraising best practices and tips. For instance, providing a customizable email template would be extremely helpful if volunteers will participate in peer-to-peer fundraising. This way, volunteers can easily send personalized emails explaining your school’s campaign.
  • How to apply for a volunteer grant through volunteers’ companies. Make the volunteer grant application easy for your volunteers. Provide simple step-by-step instructions explaining how to apply and why their grant application makes a difference. Double the Donation’s guide to volunteer grants explains that you can use a corporate giving database to identify volunteer grant and matching gift opportunities to help boost funding.

Email your volunteer guide ahead of time to ensure your volunteers have ample time to review it and ask any questions. Proactive volunteer communication is key to fundraising success.

4. Ask for feedback.

Ask volunteers for feedback after they complete the training process. Send out a brief survey for them to comment on their overall volunteer experience. Make your survey anonymous to encourage your volunteers to answer honestly. The survey should take no longer than 5-10 minutes or volunteers will be unlikely to complete it.

Encourage your volunteers to voice future suggestions to improve the volunteer training process. A variety of true/false, multiple choice, and open-ended questions provide a full picture of their volunteer experience. 

Below are some questions to include:

  • Did you feel adequately prepared to fulfill your volunteer responsibilities? 
  • What was the most beneficial aspect of the training process?
  • Are there any recommendations for components we should add to the training process? 
  • On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to volunteer again? 
  • Do you have any suggestions for new fundraising ideas?

Asking for and implementing valuable feedback is the fastest way to improve your volunteer training program. In addition, if your team is brainstorming fundraising suggestions, you can also ask your volunteers to offer any new, creative ideas. Volunteers will be much more likely to participate when your fundraisers appeal to their interests and preferences. 

Armed with clear expectations and a thorough training guide, your volunteers will feel empowered and informed. Explaining volunteer roles and responsibilities ahead of time saves stress and confusion. This way, volunteers feel valued and appreciated for their time.

About the Author:
Wayne Elsey from Funds2Orgs
Wayne Elsey is the founder and CEO of Elsey Enterprises (EE) and a member of the Forbes Business Development Council. Among his various independent brands, he is also the founder and CEO of Funds2Orgs, which is a social enterprise that helps schools, churches, nonprofits, individuals and other organizations raise funds while helping to support micro-enterprise (small business) opportunities in developing nations.