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Keys of a successful volunteer orientation

Volunteers have registered for serving opportunities. What’s next? Get them even more excited to serve through your volunteer orientation.

volunteer orientation presentation

Whether in-person or through a pre-recorded video, informing your volunteers about what to expect and how to achieve their tasks is a key factor to running a smooth event.

Your volunteer orientation helps you lay out information for your volunteer opportunity. It is your chance to highlight your mission, build a relationship with volunteers, and showcase the impact they will be making when they serve with you. Think of your orientation process as a meet and greet with volunteers. It is your chance to welcome them, familiarize them with your organization, and let them ask you questions that may not have been addressed in your pre-event survey.

Set the volunteer orientation stage

Welcome volunteers through your orientation while communicating event expectations.

Create a space at your serving opportunity that you can dedicate to hosting your volunteer orientation process. This can be a gymnasium, classroom, sanctuary, or outside. Choose a location that is both convenient and accessible for your volunteers.

During your orientation, be sure to cover what your mission is and how your volunteers are going to help you achieve that mission. This is your “vision casting” time. Focus on the importance of their presence and the real-world impact volunteers will make. Use pictures and other visual components to emphasize your point.

It is also a good time to convey what you expect of volunteers at the event and, in turn, what they can expect from you. Keep an open line of communication throughout the orientation as well as the event. Leave time for volunteers to ask you questions about the event or to clarify anything for them.

Don’t forget to be open to questions during the event. When you speak to a large group, some communications may get lost or people may forget. By allowing them to ask questions during the event, you will continue to provide a welcoming and positive atmosphere.

volunteer orientation

Setting up for success through a registration welcome video

Communicate information volunteers need to know prior to arriving at your event. 

  • What to wear while volunteering
  • How to get to your serving location
  • Where to check in when they arrive
  • More in-depth training or what to expect with certain elements that may be too lengthy for orientation

It’s a good idea to close your video and pre-event emails continuing to thank the volunteers for their time and energy they are dedicating to your organization.

Time is of the essence

While some volunteers may make serving with your organization their only plan for the day, others may have it scheduled between various activities on their calendar. For instance, if your event is scheduled to end at 3 p.m., some volunteers may have somewhere to be at 3:30 p.m. It is important to factor your orientation runtime into the length of your volunteer opportunity time.

By including your volunteer orientation into the overall event time, you mitigate the risk of going over the time you promoted. Ending on schedule shows your volunteers that you respect their time.

The ideal time to spend on orienting volunteers is 10-15 minutes. It is enough time to cover your vision, what their impact will be, expectations, and questions, without being so long that you lose their attention.

A good way to avoid racing the clock is to create a welcome video to include in your volunteer registration process. This establishes key details needed that ensure they arrive with everything they need and that important details can be covered beforehand.

Boosting volunteer-organization relationships

A strong volunteer orientation helps bolster your organization’s relationship with both new and returning volunteers.

As you are welcoming volunteers and going through your orientation you are building a relationship with the team of people present. They are getting to know your organization, just as you are getting to know your volunteers. This doesn’t have to stop when the orientation is over.

The foundation you build with volunteers during the onboarding process can help you maintain a volunteer-organization relationship during and after the event. By communicating your vision, your volunteers may become more enthusiastic about the work they will be doing. In turn, if a volunteer feels more connected to your organization, they will be more likely to volunteer again.

To make sure you have everything lined up to welcome your volunteers, download our Volunteer Orientation Checklist today.

Need some help ensuring new volunteers have the best experience with your organization? We're here to help.