How to keep volunteers happy during the winter

The winter season can get your volunteers down. Here's how to keep them happy throughout the frigid season.
Date Published
01/05/2016

During the cold and unforgiving winter months, your nonprofit organization might see a decline in volunteer rates. Maybe your volunteers or donors are unable to drive to your location in the snow, or maybe they’re so busy shoveling off their car that they can’t come help at the weekly donation sorting. As disheartening as it may be, there are ways to keep your volunteers coming this winter season. Allegiance has picked the three best methods to help any nonprofit keep volunteers happy and cozy as the snow continues to fall.

1. Offer promotional materials
Not only are promotional products fun to keep, they’re also an unobtrusive form of advertising according to Examiner magazine. Organizations that use promotional products or giveaways are more likely to be remembered. What does this mean for your cause? More people noticing your group and a higher donation rate, of course. When picking the best promotional items, go with items relevant to your cause. For example, if your organization supports underprivileged mothers with small children, customized rattles could be a big hit. If your organization is a radio broadcasting station, design customized headphones with your organization’s logo for easy listening at any time of day. Although promotional items can be expensive, they’re worth the money to invest in as donors will grow excited for your cause.

2. Bring hot drinks and coffee
According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, nearly 700 homeless individuals die of hypothermia each year in the United States. Keep the homeless and your volunteers warm and cozy this winter by providing hot chocolate, tea or coffee. If your volunteer events are outdoors, the hot drinks will act as miniature hand warmers and will keep your participants and clients satisfied. You could also design entire volunteer events and donation drives off of these signature winter drinks. For example, say that your organization works with the homeless population in the area and acts as a shelter during the night. Invite homeless families with children inside for the night with a customizable “Hot Chocolate Bar”. Each participant will receive a cup of hot chocolate or coffee and can add toppings such as marshmallows, whipped cream, chocolate chips, cinnamon, sugar, sprinkles or even small pieces of candy. The options are endless and these drinks provide many opportunities to keep hands warm and tummies happy.

3. Move volunteer events indoors
If the weather outside is frightful, don’t be afraid to move more events indoors. If your primary volunteer base happens to live further away, offer to set up a temporary location closer to a school or community hub. If possible, set up an opportunity to volunteer inside these community centers on a regular basis throughout the winter months. If your organization’s cause is environment-based, offer courses indoors at community centers educating others about your causes. When the weather gets better, you can resume regular operations outdoors. It might be necessary during the winter months to focus more on fundraising than on volunteer dates. If so, remind your donors that regular volunteer hours will resume during the spring or when weather permits and start using fundraising software from Allegiance to make a difference while attendance rates drop.

Keeping a nonprofit running during the bitter winter months can be a challenge, but there are solutions to keep you and your volunteers smiling this blustery season. From smart software solutions to moving volunteer events inside and providing warm drinks, every nonprofit can make a difference this winter no matter how frightful it is outside. From all of us at Allegiance, we wish you a warm and productive winter season.

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