Lessons in engaging volunteers from All Hands and Hearts
About All Hands and Hearts
All Hands and Hearts (AHAH) is a volunteer-powered organization committed to addressing the immediate and long-term needs of global communities impacted by disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis and wildfires. AHAH sends teams of volunteers and staff members to respond immediately after disasters strike in addition to coordinating teams to support long term recovery, focusing on rebuilding damaged homes, schools and community infrastructure in a disaster-resilient way.
The average period of volunteership with AHAH is two to three weeks; however, given the transformational experience offered, many volunteers choose to return to additional programs whenever they have the time.
The importance of engaged volunteers and alumni at AHAH
AHAH is a volunteer-powered organization—So far in 2022, their volunteer force was made up of 48% returning volunteers and 25% direct referrals from former program participants. AHAH is committed to improving their volunteer experience at every opportunity and seek feedback and input from everyone who joins them on program. 81% of volunteers surveyed this year said they would recommend AHAH to others.
Through their Builders campaign, AHAH solicits monthly fundraising from supporters and 18% of recurring donors are alumni, collectively donating over $100,000 this year. AHAH is also committed to empowering volunteers to develop personally and professionally and often recruit new paid team members from the volunteer community. More than 80% of employees who joined their staff team this year were previously volunteers. This makes volunteer engagement critical to the survival of AHH.
With a commitment to feed 95% of their funding straight back into projects, AHAH maintains a lean operation with a small staff.
By using Community from Gravyty to power their community platform, the All Hands and Hearts Alumni Network, a staff of one is able to efficiently run all volunteer and alumni engagement activities with no outside assistance.
Let’s take a look at how AHAH built its community.
Building an engaged volunteer and alumni community
Show some love
Even though volunteers give their time without the expectation of financial reward, they still want to feel appreciated for their contribution. Let your volunteers know how much you appreciate the time they give on behalf of your organization and its programs.
AHAH action tip
As soon as volunteers have finished a program with you, send them a warm and detailed thank you note telling them just how special they are to your community.
Don’t just thank them, invite them
Don’t stop at thanking your volunteers. Just because they completed a program, it doesn’t mean that their time with you is over. Let them know how to stay in touch and become part of your alumni community.
AHAH action tip
In your thank you email, invite volunteers to join your community platform and clearly explain how they can get set up.
Sell the benefits
A happy, engaged volunteer will likely come back again and again (as they do at AHAH). A good goal is to convert as many volunteers as possible into long-term alumni.
AHAH action tip
Your volunteers have just undergone a life-changing experience with you and they might find getting back to their day to day routine challenging. Share some tips and guidance on how they can leverage the experience they had with you and remind them of the long term support opportunities available.
Make it clear that by joining your platform, they will have access to a vibrant community of like-minded people with whom they can share experiences and exchange support.
Keep up regular contact
Once you’ve successfully recruited your alumni to your network, stay in touch regularly so they remember you exist!
AHAH action tip
Make sure to have regular contact with your alumni community so that they feel included and can learn about future opportunities to get involved.
Segment your volunteers
People like feeling part of a larger whole but they also enjoy belonging to a more intimate group, especially if they have just shared a life-changing experience with that group of people.
Volunteers mentor volunteers
Your existing volunteers and active members are the best people to mentor and train the next generation of volunteers.
Make it mutually beneficial
Your volunteers give a lot to you, so you want to give as much as you can back to them. Some organizations have the funds to spend on their volunteers but if, like AHAH, your organization is short on funds, think about other ways to show appreciation to your volunteers.
Volunteer engagement through your community platform
Your force for digital member communities, Community from Gravyty is the leading provider of volunteer, member and employee community platforms.
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