6 Tips for Communicating With Your Auction Volunteers

As a volunteer coordinator, you know the importance of establishing a reliable team of passionate volunteers. Your volunteers play a huge role in contributing to the success of your events and charity auctions. 

In order to run a successful charity auction fundraiser, you need to be clear about the roles and expectations you have for your volunteer team. 

To keep your volunteers excited and engaged in their work, it’s essential to communicate what their roles will be throughout the auction, express appreciation for their hard work, and ensure they understand the value of their contributions. 

If you’re an auction planner or volunteer coordinator looking to improve your communication strategies, we’ve compiled six tips for communicating with your auction volunteers:

  1. Segment your audience. 
  2. Clearly explain expectations and desired outcomes. 
  3. Proactively communicate changes.
  4. Use a multichannel communication strategy.
  5. Make your communications a two-way street. 
  6. Express your gratitude for volunteers. 

Effective volunteer communications should be part of the foundation of your organization’s event planning process. Let’s dive in to learn about how these tips can be used throughout your auction events!

1. Segment your audience. 

Volunteer segmentation is the process of dividing your volunteer pool into smaller groups. These groups are based on shared traits such as skills, interests, or experience level. 

When you segment your volunteer audience, you can send volunteers the information they need about their roles without overwhelming them with loads of irrelevant messages. When volunteer managers segment their communications by volunteer roles, they ensure they are communicating the right information to the right people.

Let’s explore some of the benefits of audience segmentation. This practice allows you to:

  1. Stay Organized – Dividing your volunteers into groups allows you to better delegate tasks to a large number of people. For instance, when you create different groups of volunteers for your auction event, you can send each group relevant information about their roles and responsibilities. During the event, you can also easily send updates or instructions to each pre-defined group. 
  2. Better Communication – Since your larger group of volunteers is divided into smaller segments, it allows you to send more personal, relevant communications to each group. This allows you to direct relevant information to the right people, which makes communicating tasks easier.
  3. Increased Engagement – Your volunteers will note your efforts to make your marketing and communications more applicable to them as individuals. This can help ensure that they stay engaged over the long term. 

Volunteer segmentation streamlines communications by allowing you to craft tailored messages to each volunteer group, boosting efficiency. 

2. Clearly explain expectations and desired outcomes. 

Before your event begins, you should be clear in your communications about what you want your volunteers to do throughout the event, and what their actions will help accomplish. 

When you provide a clear description of the purpose of your volunteer opportunity and what supporters will help your organization achieve, you can boost your volunteer recruitment efforts. Prospective volunteers will feel much more comfortable about signing up because they’ll know what’s expected of them. 

Also, let your volunteers know why what they’re doing matters. Volunteers stay motivated when they know they are contributing to making a positive difference. 

Here are some ways you can communicate your expectations and desired outcomes:

  1. Practice Situational Leadership – Adjust your communication and management style to adapt to different situations with different groups of people. For instance, you might communicate with your older volunteers differently than with your younger volunteers. Similarly, you might offer more guidance to your new volunteers, while allowing your long-time volunteers to have greater responsibility. 
  2. Define What Success Looks Like – As a leader, you want to motivate your volunteers to perform at the highest level. Define what success looks like for volunteers and how they fit into your event as a whole to provide greater context to their roles. For instance, you might explain that your auction helps fund your organization’s after-school gardening program for local kids. Let volunteers know that because of their help, you’re able to set up and break down the event easily, meaning your staff can focus on soliciting bids and keeping the event running smoothly.  
  3. Check-in With Volunteers Regularly – Checking in with your volunteers allows you to communicate updates and continuously thank them for their hard work. This helps you keep your volunteers stay on track and engaged. You can also reward volunteers who are doing a particularly good job, so they are aware that you notice their achievements.

Once you’ve explained the desired outcomes you want your volunteers to achieve, you can provide guidance and support for accomplishing those goals. 

3. Proactively communicate changes. 

Although you work hard to ensure your auction is a success, sometimes things don’t go according to plan. If need to make changes to your volunteer activities, let your volunteers know right away. 

This is very important considering the COVID-19 situation. If your auction is taking place in person, your volunteers need to know the safety measures in place. If your event is hybrid or fully virtual, create a system for keeping remote volunteers in the loop. This could involve creating a text group or using your volunteer app to send updates.   

Communication is the core of any successful initiative. It helps keep your volunteers updated and on track so they’re not left confused or uncertain about the next steps. Having an effective and consistent form of communication to deliver messages quickly will be key to keeping your volunteers informed and engaged! 

4. Use a multichannel communication strategy.

A multi-channel communication strategy involves communicating with your volunteers through several different platforms. Give your volunteers the information they need by sending messages through email, social media, your website, texts or phone calls, or mobile app notifications. 

Each platform has its own strengths for delivering different types of information. For instance, email is beneficial if you are looking to send detailed information about an upcoming event. Or, if you are looking to send a quick notification about canceling an outdoor activity due to bad weather conditions, a text message or a mobile app notification would be helpful. Whatever the case may be, you want to take advantage of the strengths of each platform to communicate information effectively and with ease.

An organized way to centralize all of your volunteer communications is with a mobile app. For instance, InitLive’s volunteer management app provides multiple communication options such as email, SMS, and in-app messaging. The app also includes other features that are beneficial for your volunteers such as self check-in and attendance tracking. The app provides all the tools and resources that you and your volunteers need for an optimal communication experience. 

5. Make your communications a two-way street. 

You can increase volunteer engagement when you make your communications a two-way street. Ensure your volunteers know who to go to for any questions they have throughout the auction event. And, once the auction concludes, send a post-event survey to gather volunteer feedback.

Two-way communication creates an environment where volunteers can share their thoughts and ideas. It’s essential to get feedback from your volunteers because you want them to feel valued and like their opinions matter in your organization. Plus, you can use their feedback to improve your volunteer opportunities and make them more appealing for supporters. This can help boost volunteer retention in the long run. 

By making your communications a two-way street, you can deliver volunteers important messages while allowing them to communicate their opinions. 

6. Express your gratitude for volunteers. 

Your volunteer communication strategy shouldn’t end right after your auction is over. You must express gratitude to your volunteers for donating their time and talents to help make your event a success! 

Volunteer appreciation efforts result in greater volunteer satisfaction and retention. When volunteers feel recognized and appreciated, they are more likely to feel connected to your program and continue their involvement. Here are some ways you can show gratitude to your volunteers:

  1. Feature Volunteers on Your Website – Showing recognition on one of your blogs can be an excellent way to show your community your appreciation for your volunteer’s hard work! This allows your volunteers to feel special and acknowledged.
  2. Give a Shout Out on Your Social Media Platforms – You can leverage the power of your social media by sharing an appreciation post or a story about your volunteers. Be sure to make the posts shareable so volunteers can repost them to their own pages!
  3. Give Your Volunteers Awards or Certificates – Were there volunteers who went above and beyond? You can nominate them for awards such as “Volunteer of the Year” to show your heartfelt appreciation.
  4. Write a Personal Thank You Letter – A handwritten, customized thank you letter is one of the simplest but most powerful ways of showing appreciation. You can make it more special by pointing out specific tasks each individual accomplished during their volunteer time.

Remember to also share specific results from your auction event, such as how much money you were able to raise during the event. Numbers help volunteers visualize how much their help made a difference in your auction. 

In order to run a successful auction event, your volunteers’ contributions play an impactful role. Think about how you will divide your team of volunteers, explain desired outcomes, determine which forms of communication will be most effective, and show gratitude for all their hard work!

Implementing efficient volunteer communication strategies will help ensure the success of your event and create an enjoyable experience for your team of hardworking volunteers. These tips can apply whether you’re hosting an in-person, virtual, or hybrid event. 

Cassandra Smallman

Cassandra is a passionate content creator dedicated to fostering positive impact through thought leadership in both the Nonprofit sector and live events industry. You can find her work at www.initlive.com or on Linkedin and Twitter.

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