Volunteer Engagement: How to Use Specific Opportunities to Increase Member Activity
Identifying and personalizing the volunteer experience leads to more engaged members
At 16,000 users and growing, the International Avaya User Group (IAUG) is one of the world’s largest international organizations for communications technology professionals.
And it is a community powered by the time and commitment of hundreds of volunteers.
IAUG relies on volunteers at all levels of the organization to provide customer insight, time, and support toward all of IAUG’s year-round programs. And it is important to ensure that the volunteers who participate in any organization understand and can represent the interests and needs of the member base for which they are creating programs. However, with demanding jobs and other obligations, it can be difficult to regularly find and recruit new volunteers who have the interest and the time to contribute.
But building volunteer management programs is not just about finding people, it’s also about how you engage, train, and recognize them once they agree to participate. In addressing the need to recruit more volunteers, IAUG revamped the ways it defined, recruited, and recognized the volunteers in the organization. Leveraging a new online tool via its website, IAUG restructured their volunteer program through:
- Adjusting the volunteer time commitment and contribution levels for a variety of roles–making it possible to contribute as little or as much as one could.
- Regularly updating and reposting new roles to the portal as they become available, promoting a commitment to ongoing, proactive recruitment.
- Utilizing an online recognition and point system to identify, track, and reward volunteers for their ongoing contribution to the organization.
The results? Through unique and varied opportunities, the new volunteer portal resulted in increased engagement, keeping members coming back regularly to contribute to the community.
Redefining the Volunteer Role
The IAUG HQ team at Innovatis Group explored member and volunteer feedback to better understand the motivations and detractors for giving time to volunteer. The team discovered that people want to find ways to volunteer but were often turned off by the idea that roles like serving on a committee or running a chapter may be too time consuming or were a longer term than they could commit to. The team found that engaged members in fact preferred short, easy ways to contribute.
For a member of an organization like IAUG, someone might offer a blog post, a technical solution, a comment on social media, or participate in a podcast—not necessarily the most traditional examples when one thinks of volunteering. But, each of these contributions are something that can certainly support IAUG in delivering on its mission. Reimagining and repositioning ways in which members could make an impact opened up new possibilities for people to get involved with IAUG.
Identifying and Personalizing the Volunteer Experience
The team also recognized a need to better promote the impact of volunteers and better recognize their commitment to the broader community. To do so, they also needed a more effective way of tracking participation and contributions.
In evaluating ways to best do this, the team evaluated tools that:
- Provide a one-stop shop solution for volunteers and administrators.
- Allow members to create a profile and to connect with other admins and other members.
- Automate and streamline communications and notifications.
- Match opportunities to each member’s specific volunteer and career journeys and expertise.
- Track volunteer activity.
- Showcase activities.
Through ongoing conversations with Higher Logic, the software company that powers the IAUG website and AMS, the IAUG HQ team decided on the Volunteer Manager add-on module. The Volunteer Manager portal software integrates easily with IAUG’s AMS and website to help efficiently manage volunteer information, such as contact details, interests, skillsets, and availability. Implementation took just under a month and the IAUG Volunteer Portal went live in tandem with a website redesign.
Volunteers can now specify the type of opportunities that interest them, their level of expertise, the amount of time they can give, and any other information that might be relevant to the HQ staff sourcing applications.
This is a two-way process. The IAUG member can submit their interests and wait for the system administrators to contact them, or they can select from a list of available opportunities on the portal. The system then matches the volunteer opportunity to the member’s profile and requirements.
The Volunteer Leaderboard is a prominent feature displayed on the portal’s main screen, showing the members with the most points, hours, or opportunities. IAUG’s new volunteer management tool supports IAUG in its mission to better identify, recruit and recognize its volunteer communities.
Driving Continued Volunteer Success
In less than three months, IAUG has seen an uptick in the short-term commitment contributions available on the portal. From blog submissions to new council applicants, the Volunteer Portal has engaged net new contributors coming from a variety of backgrounds and experiences.
Although the tool is still quite new, IAUG HQ is already looking into ways in which they can better segment and recruit prospective volunteers and contributors.