Faced with limited resources, do you amplify your nonprofit’s communications capacity by working with communications volunteers? As the communications landscape continues to change and evolve, the volume of our output grows and grows. But these challenges also bring about new opportunities and the potential for all kinds of meaningful new roles for communications volunteers.


Skills-based volunteering: a good fit with communications roles

According to Volunteer Canada, more and more people wish to apply specific skills to their volunteer work. With the large and growing number of skills required to deliver effective communications, skills-based volunteering offers the potential for a satisfying partnership between a volunteer and an organization.

Think beyond the ‘communications committee’. For example, nonprofits need:

  • Talented people to take photos, and videos, to write newsletter and blog content and to help with photo editing and graphic design.
  • Advisors with social media, email marketing and other new media background.
  • Ambassadors to help spread your messages and support and grow your communities.
  • Experts and spokespeople you can turn to when the media call.
  • Access to different perspectives to support your strategic planning.

So, are you relying on staff or tapping into the volunteer talent pool to advance your communications?


Working with communications volunteers: considerations

If you’re a communications pro without a volunteer development background, there is much to consider and learn about working with communications volunteers.

You’ll need to determine what responsibilities are suitable volunteer assignments. This includes evaluating capacity, skills and suitability to decide which roles are more suited to staff versus volunteers.

What needs to be in place to work effectively with communications volunteers? You’ll need to establish project goals, time commitments, guidelines and policies, and make a plan for ongoing staff support.

You’ll need to understand the principles of good volunteer development, such as recruiting, screening, training and motivating volunteers. You might be working with your volunteer manager or coordinator for the first time, or if you don’t have one, you might be figuring it all out on your own.

Accountability. How can you keep volunteers accountable and motivated to meet deadlines and deliver on commitments?

And these are just a few examples!


Join the conversation during February’s #NPMC Twitter Chat

At this month’s #NPMC Chat, let’s explore the world of working with communications volunteers, from a variety of perspectives:

  • Do you currently work with communications volunteers? If yes, what’s working well for you?
  • Is working with communications volunteers something you’ve been considering but haven’t yet done? Why not?
  • Are you a communications volunteer yourself? How do you manage this role and what are the best ways that your nonprofit can support your volunteerism?

What lessons have you learned about working with communications volunteers? What questions would you like to ask? Bring your insights and questions to the #NPMC chat on Thursday, February 27, 2014 at 1:00 p.m. E.T. 





Marlene Oliveira

Marlene Oliveira

Communications advisor and copywriter at moflow
Marlene Oliveira is communications consultant and copywriter at moflow and founder of the Nonprofit MarCommunity blog. Having worked in the nonprofit sector since 1999, Marlene specializes in working with capacity building and grant-making organizations, advising on communications strategy, and writing stories and other content.
Marlene Oliveira
Marlene Oliveira