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The Benefits of Volunteerism For Local Governments: Strategies To Engage Volunteers

By Stephen Brandofino

In the complex world of local governance, volunteers serve as the backbone of community based initiatives such as a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team), sustainability committees, local health advocacy groups and much more. One of the many problems faced by local government officials is finding members of the community who are willing to participate in these local programs. 

With barriers to finding volunteers including time constraints, lack of awareness to these programs, and limited outreach in finding volunteers, it is a very difficult task for local governments to undertake. With the help of government management software it can be easier than ever to find dependable, exemplary citizens, to help partake in better servicing the community. 

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Why Is Volunteerism Important? 

Volunteerism is an integral part of a community. It allows for communities to grow and prosper, and has many benefits to a local community. Some of these benefits include: 

1. Community Building

Volunteerism can help foster a strong sense of camaraderie and purpose. A collective  effort of volunteers working towards a common goal to better their community will create a stronger one. Volunteer groups can give constituents an opportunity to meet, socialize, and connect on a level that they may not be able to on a day to day basis.

Learn everything about Community Engagement Strategy here. 

2. Addressing Social Issues

Volunteers will often engage in events and programs that help address social issues such as homelessness, poverty, or lack of proper education systems. Communities will feel more connected if they are able to make changes to these important social issues. Volunteers that assist the most underserved members of the community also positively impact upward mobility.

Learn more about How To Improve Upward Mobility in your community. 

3. Personal Development

Volunteering allows for citizens to gain skills, explore interests, and gain practical experience. Certain skills including leadership skills, interpersonal skills, and communication skills can be strengthened through volunteering, which can help constituents in their personal as well as professional life. Fostering a strong community of volunteers also helps your constituents feel more connected and engaged in the development of their shared community. 

4.  Encouraging Civic Engagement

Volunteering encourages active participation in communities. It empowers constituents to take ownership of their communities, fostering a positive culture of civic responsibility. Civic engagement also encourages constituents to look at their community more positively and fosters a sense of morale and camaraderie within the community. 

The Benefits Of Employing Volunteers in Your Community 

Integrating volunteers in the fabrics of your community provides numerous benefits and positive outcomes for your city. Here are a few of them: 

  • Community Engagement and Participation 

An important goal that local government leaders should always attempt to pursue is to bring about active participation by their constituents within the community. When members of a municipality participate in volunteer efforts, they take more accountability in their communities, thereby fostering civic engagement and promoting democracy

  • Resource Augmentation 

An unspoken benefit of volunteerism in a local community is its ability to provide an additional workforce at no cost or a minimal cost to the government. This allows for local municipalities to extend their impact and reach with their budget. Volunteers often offer their services for free, allowing for saving of valuable resources that can be used to better help other underserved areas of the community. Furthermore, volunteers oftentimes will bring their own tools, equipment, or expertise, which can even further help cut costs for local governments. 

  • Addressing Community Needs 

Volunteers provide necessary support to various initiatives. As a local government leader, it is important to notice and understand which programs your constituents resonate with. From environmental conservation to education and municipal services, everyone has something that they feel strongly about. People will often volunteer to support causes that mean a lot to them, so using volunteers to see what problems are important to your constituents can be a useful tool and a meaningful effect of volunteerism. 

  • Flexibility and Adaptability 

The most valuable attribute of a volunteer to a local government is their flexibility and adaptability. The ability for volunteers to participate in events during non-business hours, including the weekends, allows for local governments to tailor programs with ease to meet evolving community needs without bureaucratic delays. Furthermore, volunteers are able to adapt to different assignments and tasks due to not only their flexible schedules, but also their various skill sets that they bring to the table.

  • Promoting Social Cohesion and Inclusivity 

An integral aspect of volunteerism is that it brings together people from different backgrounds to achieve a common goal. While these volunteers may come from the same community, they may be diverse in their socioeconomic, racial, and religious backgrounds. On top of these differing backgrounds, different people have had different life experiences, and giving people a platform to come to a mutual understanding on an issue and create a sense of unity is a very powerful tool for local governments. Giving underserved groups of a community a chance to be involved in government programs in ways that provide true value is an invaluable experience for many. 

Learn more about Promoting Equity in Local Governments here. 

  • Skill Development 

Volunteering events and programs allow for people within a community to learn and develop valuable skills, gain experience, and enhance their knowledge. Working with a team, communicating, and finishing tasks with deadlines are all skills necessary for the job market and can help volunteers become more employable. Many members of the community will look to contribute to volunteer projects as a way to increase personal growth and learn new marketable skills. 

  • Enhanced Service Delivery 

With the help of volunteers within a community, local governments can extend their reach and provide more services to a broader section. It can become very difficult for municipalities to afford to help resolve every problem within a community. Most local governments operate on very strict budgets, so creating a community where volunteers are able to take on responsibilities that impact the betterment of society is a highly beneficial practice. 

The ability for local governments to use volunteers to deliver services more efficiently can help in improving access to healthcare, education, social services, and other vital resources necessary to community members. The ability for local governments to have access to the help of volunteers is one way government services can be made better for citizens. 

Learn more about how GovPilot can help in Improving Municipal Service Delivery here.

How To Find Capable Volunteers In Your Community

Recruiting the right volunteers for different local initiatives is an important step in improving your community. While the great part of volunteering is that it is open to everyone in a community, it is beneficial to target capable and skilled volunteers for the right groups and programs. 

1. Social Media Outreach

Utilizing social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram are great ways to engage communities in volunteerism. Virtually every member of your community likely already uses social media in their day to day lives, making it the perfect way to reach them. Creating posts that can draw volunteers in, sharing success stories, and encouraging the spread of these posts throughout your followers networks are all useful tools in gaining volunteers using social media. Utilize and update your Local Government Website for a similar effect. 

Learn everything you need to know about Local Government Social Media Strategy here. 

2. Targeted Sign-Ups

One of the most useful tools in assisting with finding the right volunteers for the right programs, is the ability for local governments to see what movements are most important to their constituents. With the help of certain tools such as town hall meetings and even robust data analysis, governments can see who is concerned about certain issues, and target these groups to sign up for these community programs. 

3. Volunteer Referrals

Encouraging your current volunteers to enlist the help of their family members and friends to support different causes may be the most traditional way to gain volunteers. People will become more likely to get involved in supporting a cause when they know someone who is already involved, and this naturally boosts the numbers of volunteers you can harness.  

Utilize GovPilot's Constituent Engagement Software for an even broader reach. 

4. Engage Schools and Universities

Collaborating with local schools and universities in order to gain volunteers for a cause is a symbiotic relationship. Many schools require their students to participate in community service programs, so this engagement will benefit all parties involved. This new pool of passionate, young members of society can help local governments in achieving their goals and understanding the need for these programs.

Follow this resource to learn more about bringing a Digital Transformation To Your Municipality. 

5. Organize Recruitment Events

If there is one thing that can easily bring together new recruits for volunteer movements, it is an event that is hosted by the organization looking for volunteers. These events will allow for both the leaders of these groups to discuss the different goals they may have for the movement, and can allow for possible new members to express their interest in a program and better understand the why behind their volunteering. 

These types of events also allow for a lot of networking and are great community builders, as it may be otherwise difficult to bring local communities all together at one time. 

To streamline activity registration in your area for events like this, utilize GovPilot’s Activity Registration Form

Best Practices To Engage with Volunteers 

Working with volunteers is a vital part of local governance and requires local officials to engage with best practices such as the following: 

  • Train Volunteers 

Providing new volunteers with the necessary skills and tools in order to succeed at their new tasks can be highly beneficial. This will not only give the community volunteers a chance to gain confidence and engage in their new roles, but it will also help to strengthen the volunteer organization as a whole if everyone is working to learn and grow together. 

Learn everything about How to Form a Community Emergency Response Team and train volunteers here. 

  • Encourage Positivity and Show Thanks 

It is important to remember that volunteers are unpaid, upstanding members of society who have decided to dedicate a part of their free time to a cause. No matter how big or small that dedication is, it is important for local governments to show appreciation and be positive. Doing things such as recognizing their achievements publicly, or hosting events to show appreciation, are all great ways to foster a feeling of appreciation towards your constituents.

  • Validate Their Impact 

For a volunteer, seeing clear results and changes brought about by their hard work and dedication, is what is most important to them. Seeing first hand the positive impacts that their contributions to their community has made, is something that goes a long way to a volunteer. Things like surveys, before and after comparisons, and long-term impact assessments are all useful tools to validate the impact a group of volunteers has made. 

Learn about one of the most common areas of volunteerism in most communities, Providing Upkeep to Public Spaces

How Government Management Software Can Streamline Volunteer Onboarding

1. Online Volunteer Applications 

Creating easy to access applications can make the process of recruiting and vetting volunteer applicants more efficient. It is important for local governments to make use of software solutions such as GovPilot software that are designed to make application processes run more efficiently through a simple, fully digital volunteer application process. 

Check out GovPilot’s Committee Volunteer Application to learn more. 

2. Automated Application Review Process 

Rather than spending money and time to review applications of possible volunteers, creating processes that can help automate the review process can be beneficial and cost effective in the long run. Instead of paying government workers to sort through applications to find the right citizens to help a cause, utilizing an automated system through government management software will simplify this process. The automatic review will be able to run with certain criteria set and can speed up the application approvals, getting volunteers out in their communities helping sooner. 

Learn more about Public Sector Robotic Process Automation for a deeper understanding of how RPA can help your municipality.  

3. Communication and Engagement Tools 

Keeping open communication with volunteers can be a beneficial way to get the most out of their services. With volunteering happening largely outside of people’s already busy schedules, it is important to facilitate communication between coordinators and volunteers through built-in messaging systems, forums, or email integration. 

4. Automated Scheduling and Shift Management 

Government management systems can help in creating cohesive schedules and managing shifts, allowing for roles to be filled quickly and programs and events to work more efficiently. Make sure to look deeper into GovPilot’s scheduling software to learn more about automation in scheduling workflows for your municipality. 

5. Track Volunteers In a Centralized Database 

A key aspect of utilizing government management systems to track your volunteers, is to use a centralized database in the government cloud. This will help to keep their information safe and secure, and allow for communication and referencing across departments. 

Learn more about Government Cybersecurity Best Practices here. 

Incentivize and Engage with Volunteers In Your Community Now 

The importance of volunteerism to your community cannot be understated. Constituents would like to see their community prosper and grow, and becoming volunteers in certain groups can help them have direct involvement in that process. Local governments should look to these upstanding citizens as an important part of their management process. Government officials should continue to look for ways to improve their volunteer outreach with government management software and automated volunteer application forms. 

Book a free consultation with GovPilot today. 

Local Community Volunteer FAQs

  • Why is it important to have volunteers in your community?

Engaging with ample local volunteers makes a huge difference in the development of your community. Volunteers are an important aspect of local governance because they dedicate their own time and resources to projects that, without their help, would likely take longer, and more government funding to complete. 

  • What can local volunteers help with? 

Volunteers can assist their local community with a number of different projects such as infrastructure development, fundraising, emergency preparedness, delivering government services, and much more. These volunteers often bring expertise and personal skills with them to projects where they could assist underserved members of the community such as veterans or senior citizens

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Tags: Government Efficiency, Digital Transformation, Disaster Recovery