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4 Tech-Savvy Tips For Supporting & Engaging Your Volunteers

February 12, 2021, The Association

How do all those indispensable volunteers fit into your pandemic playbook? This week’s Innovation Bank features tips and strategies for onboarding and engaging volunteers from Arizona Humane Society’s Sara Cruz-Mora. Listen to the pre-recorded webinar here (it’s under 30 minutes), and read on for some grab-and-go resources.

Onboard Online

For those who have been hesitant to onboard and train volunteers online, Cruz-Mora has some simple advice. “It’s time to rip off the Band-Aid and say hello to online LMS orientation,” she says. An LMS—Learning Management System—is a software program that helps you create, manage and deliver e-learning courses. Best of all, they’re affordable, easy to set up, and allow volunteers to complete their training at their convenience.

And how does freeing up valuable staff time sound? “Research shows that the amount of time employees spend training volunteers using an LMS is 40-60% less than with traditional education,” says Cruz-Mora. Great options for onboarding include TalentLMS and Volunteer Hub.

Pre-Record Your Training Resources

Cruz-Mora highly recommends pre-recorded trainings, whether your volunteers are on- or offsite. That can include how-to videos such as getting dogs out of their kennels, safe handling for cats, and delivering enrichment. And you don’t need fancy equipment. “Recording on your cell phone is fine,” says Cruz-Mora. 

For computer-based jobs, you can record your computer screen to show folks how to complete specific tasks. TechSmith Capture is great for this.

Get In Sync

Streamline processes even further by ensuring the technologies you are using “speak to each other in every way possible.” For example, explains Cruz-Mora, make sure that your LMS connects to your Volunteer Management System.

Cast Your Volunteers In New Roles

While AHS has been able to bring back many on-site volunteers, the number is not near pre-COVID level. Some volunteers will not feel comfortable engaging in-person, while for others it is simply not an option for health reasons. Here are some ideas for tasks that volunteers don’t have to be onsite to assist with:

  • foster caretaker
  • animal transport
  • remote admin work, such as voicemail transcription and adoption follow-up calls
  • short-term foster/doggie day trips
  • pet detectives to help return lost pets to their owners
  • social media content creation
  • donor stewardship (i.e., follow-up thank-you calls, etc.)
  • prep of enrichment items and toys (can make at home and drop off at the shelter)
  • bio writing for resident pets

For a deeper dive into volunteer engagement, learn about the online Volunteer Engagement Professional (VEP) program created by the Academy of Prosocial Learning

More From Our Innovation Bank

Program Spotlight: Metro Denver CAT
5 Free Humane Education Resources
The Genomics of the American Mutt

About The Association
The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement is a cohort of leaders on a mission to champion, advance, and unify the animal welfare profession.