When faced with the hustle and bustle of the holidays as well as the cold weather that makes people want to stay in their cozy, warm homes, many nonprofit managers feel like engaging volunteers during the holidays is an uphill battle.

Between shopping for gifts, solidifying travel plans, decorating the house, and spending time with friends and family, it might seem like it’s difficult for people to find a moment to breathe, let alone volunteer during the holiday season. 

However, this could not be further from the truth.

While it is true that, for many people, the holiday season is often the busiest time of the year, it is also the time of year when people volunteer the most. According to the University of Texas at Dallas, volunteerism increases 50% between November and December.

It’s important for nonprofit volunteer managers to understand that although the holidays pose unique challenges that can negatively impact volunteerism, there are still plenty of people who are looking for opportunities to serve their communities during this time.

As a nonprofit volunteer coordinator, you can capitalize on this increased desire for volunteerism during the holidays by keeping these five tips in mind:

1. Focus on the reason for the season

While it’s easy to get caught up in giving and receiving gifts, eating great food, and setting up fancy decorations, the holidays are meant to be centered around feeling gratitude, connecting with others, and giving back.

This holiday season, you can increase your number of volunteers and engage your existing ones by highlighting the values of the season. 

Email newsletters, social media posts, and other digital marketing tools that emphasize the importance of helping others, giving to those in need, and serving the community can encourage people to make time to volunteer with your organization during the holidays.

2. Emphasize small-dollar donation campaigns

When it comes to running a successful nonprofit, every dollar counts. While small-dollar donations might not seem significant, they can make a world of difference for your organization.

Small-dollar donation campaigns won’t just help your organization financially, but they will also help improve your volunteer force during the holidays.

For one, encouraging small donations will help convert your volunteers into donors, furthering their impact and engagement with your organization. 

Also, small-dollar donation campaigns encourage volunteers to spread awareness of your nonprofit to others through the power of peer-to-peer fundraising. Roughly 40% of Americans donate to a nonprofit organization because they were asked to by a friend or family member. Your existing volunteers will feel more comfortable asking their loved ones to contribute to your organization if they know their friends and family members can donate small amounts.

Try using volunteer management software with micro-donation features, like the software solution offered by Civic Champs. With this resource, volunteers are able to make micro-donations following volunteer events, allowing them to feel more invested in your nonprofit organization.

3. Host a creative event

Keep your nonprofit at the forefront of your volunteers’ minds by hosting a creative event that will attract their attention, provide a memorable and positive experience with your organization, and allow them to connect with other volunteers while serving people in their community.

35% of volunteers do give time to organizations to socialize and connect with others in their community. Hosting a fun, creative event where community members give back and connect with one another during one of the loneliest seasons of the year will help you engage and retain volunteers.

If you run an animal shelter, try hosting an event where volunteers can help animals dress up in Santa hats for a photo booth fundraiser. If you run a nonprofit centered on affordable housing, like Habitat for Humanity, try hosting a gingerbread house-making contest fundraiser.

By coming up with creative ways to embrace the holiday season while raising money and furthering your mission, you will form a deeper connection with your volunteers.

4. Focus on the specific needs of your community

According to a report by Sterling Volunteers, 66% of volunteers give their time to improve their community.

During the holiday season, people are looking for ways to give back. One of the best ways to help your volunteers feel like they are helping others during the holidays is to organize events that will allow them to serve their communities. 

When you post volunteer opportunities, emphasize how these opportunities will make a difference in your area. When you solicit donations from volunteers, show them how their donations will make a tangible impact on the people in their community (no matter how small the donation). 

5. Show your appreciation

You can connect with your volunteers and work toward turning holiday volunteers into year round supporters by showing your appreciation for all of their hard work.

Sending a “We’re thankful for you!” message on Thanksgiving or a Happy Holidays message emphasizing that your organization couldn’t run without them is a great way to help your volunteers feel valued. But expressing gratitude for volunteer work should really be a campaign throughout the year. The holiday season is a great time to do something extra special for the people that fuel your impact whether that’s a volunteer appreciation event, a gift, or a spotlight on social media or in a newsletter. 

If you have volunteers that signed up for an event during the holidays, you can increase the likelihood that they will continue to volunteer for your organization by sending a thank you note or showing them how their service was able to make an impact .

6. Utilize a volunteer management software 

Given that volunteerism increases by 50% during the holiday season, volunteer programs, coordinators, and managers are likely to be overwhelmed with logistics, communication, tracking, and management tasks. With an influx of new folks looking to give back during the season of giving smooth scheduling, onboarding, and orientation for holiday volunteer events will be absolutely critical. 

Volunteer management software solutions are created to help make the load of managing every step of the volunteer management cycle easier and less time intensive. For the holiday season a software solution with nimble mobile friendly admin tools, automated check-ins, and a kiosk mode will be especially helpful in managing lots of new or once a year volunteers. 

Check out our holistic list of the best volunteer management software solutions and see what might be the best fit for you and your organization.

Navigating the holiday season

Increasing volunteer engagement might seem tricky during the holiday season, but you can successfully navigate volunteer management this time by using the tips above.

Volunteers who aren’t thrilled to head out into the cold will be enticed by fun, holiday-themed events. Volunteers who find themselves too busy to volunteer may be willing to carve time to help your organization if they are reminded of the values of the holiday season. Volunteers who want to support your organization, but find themselves stretched thin financially during the holidays may be willing to make micro-donations.

With the right volunteer management tools and strategies, you can ensure that your organization is able to retain volunteers during the holidays.

Learn more about how Civic Champs’ volunteer management software can help you improve your volunteer program when you visit our website.

About the Author:
Geng Wang

As CEO of Civic Champs, I lead our team of passionate change leaders to create technology solutions to create a seamless and rewarding volunteering experience for both volunteers and service organizations.