Nonprofit groups have historically been faced with many challenges and, more than likely, they always will be. It’s the nature of the game. Regardless of geographical location, or the types of communities or initiatives they serve, nearly all nonprofit and volunteer program challenges tend to fall into the same two buckets: time and money. As you kick off 2015, it’s important that you identify these challenges and think about how to can face and offset them in the coming year.

Volunteer Program Challenge #1: Money

We’re starting with money.  When you work for a nonprofit or volunteer program, it’s not uncommon to hear about, get brought into discussions on, or simply just commiserate over the lack of funds that your organization has at its disposal. How can you possibly implement and achieve all of your goals with such a modest budget?

But there are several steps you can take to understand this issue (specifically how it is affecting your organization) and begin to address it:

  1. Review costs – to begin with, take a look at how your organization spends money. Are there opportunities to more effectively allocate funds? Are you investing intelligently in programs or initiatives that will benefit the organization long-term, or is money being spent on “Band-Aid” fixes?
  2. Track the return on your investments – for all expenses, be sure to identify how they are impacting your organization. In times of financial crisis, budget cuts are quick and brutal. Be aware of the ROI on your investments. For example, although they are a cost, volunteer background checks or volunteer screening programs are necessary to prevent potentially costly situations, and help build loyalty within your volunteer group. These kinds of costs carry a significant benefit to the organization, and must be accounted for within even the most limiting of budgets.
  3. Build loyalty with your staff and volunteers – recruiting is an expensive undertaking. It depletes both time resources and financial resources for background checks, onboarding and training. Investing intelligently in a solid onboarding program helps to reduce turnover and control this cost. 

Volunteer Program Challenge #2: Time

The other most common challenge to overcome as a nonprofit organization is time. This manifests in a variety of formats:

  1. Marketing – Effective marketing campaigns take significant staff input to plan and deliver. It can be difficult to allocate time resources to these functions when so many other functions require support. 
  2. Recruiting – Every successful organization is able to dedicate resources to recruiting volunteers. Once individuals have been identified, interviewed and screened, even more resources are required to onboard and train them.
  3. Administrative Tasks – Time and time again, nonprofit organizations are unable to complete all of their administrative tasks because they don’t have enough hours in the day. Ironically, with more resources, nonprofits would be better able to measure their impact, apply for more funding, and in turn, get more resources! It’s a difficult cycle to break.

 

We’ve laid out some of the more common volunteer management issues we hear about. Now we want to hear from you. Which of these challenges are an issue for you? Share your challenges with us on Facebook. Let us know which volunteer program challenges and issues you would like us to help you explore and solve and we will dive into them in future posts and articles.

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