How technology can help solve volunteer burnout

The idea of contributing to positive change has attracted thousands of people to volunteer for various causes—from biodiversity conservation and child development to helping to alleviate poverty. Despite the noble motivations of volunteers, it is still highly possible to experience burnout. The National Council for Voluntary Organisations recently found that the past few years has brought emotional fatigue and burnout to volunteers all over the country. A work wellbeing article published by LHH expounds on how leaders can play a huge part in avoiding volunteer burnout. Knowing the causes of burnout through proactive collaboration and engagement can provide a better picture of volunteers’ professional and personal burdens. To this end, voluntary organisations and charities can prioritise supporting the emotional health of their volunteers by providing them with positive experiences as they contribute to the cause.

Making a huge stride towards making volunteers feel valued and appreciated involves addressing the frequent causes of burnout in creative and innovative ways. Today, we'll discuss three ways technology can be the solution to volunteer burnout:

1. It can optimise your onboarding experience

A popular reason for quitting among volunteers is a poor fit with the organisation. Addressing matching problems is critical to the success of your organisation because, without the volunteers' support, you risk losing the necessary manpower to run it. To do this, you must have a focused approach to recruitment and onboarding. A well-structured onboarding process can help prepare and acclimate volunteers to the cause and systems of your organisation.

Volunteer onboarding software programs can help you automate your onboarding process, from registration to scheduling. These systems can also store unique volunteer profiles, allowing you to match them with the tasks that fit their own strengths and interests. The goal of onboarding is to make your volunteers feel that they are part of the organisation and can contribute to the advancement of the cause. Technology can help in this process by managing volunteers' expectations with their hours and responsibilities and tracking how these expectations are fulfilled.

2. It can help you personalise your interactions with volunteers

Burnout can likewise be caused by a feeling of disconnect from the rest of the team. Personalising your interactions with each of them is one way to address this. As a volunteer manager, even small gestures can go a long way to boost retention. By initiating a culture of connection, you can make your volunteers feel appreciated for their work.

Technology can help simplify this process. By hosting regular huddles via Slack or Microsoft Teams, setting up dedicated social media groups, or perhaps even using the group chat feature on Volunteero *cough cough*, you can initiate conversations that allow you to get to know your volunteers more intimately. In a previous blog post entitled Supporting Volunteer Wellbeing, we also suggested collecting volunteer feedback. This can be done through tools such as Google Forms, JotForms, or volunteer reports on Volunteero. This mechanism can help you personally address the individual problems your volunteers are encountering and check in on their current situation.

3. It can help you offer training and educational opportunities

The Guardian reports that despite volunteers saying their work gives them a sense of purpose, organisations still face an ongoing struggle to maintain participation rates. One reason is the lack of volunteer growth opportunities, leading to low morale. Focusing solely on onboarding new volunteers runs you the risk of neglecting your current team. Providing upskilling opportunities is essential in demonstrating your commitment to your volunteers.

Management platforms, online communities, and eLearning hubs such as Coursera and UDemy are now easily accessed online. Consider investing resources into these programs that can provide your volunteers with knowledge on financial management, creatives, digital marketing, and many other in-demand skills today. By offering ways to develop their skills, you can show that you want to help your volunteers grow with your organisation.

It's no secret that volunteers are the key to the success of your organisation. Their work and belief in the mission and cause are needed to keep the organisation running. Addressing their burnout through technology can go a long way toward keeping volunteers energised, engaged, and ready to help out.

This article was guest written by Noella Kellen. Noella is a freelance writer and a researcher. She is also an advocate for the environment and spends her free time volunteering for nonprofits working on climate change.

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