Manage and onboard volunteers

Volunteers are a critical driving force for many nonprofits to achieve their missions. With Asana, you can ensure you're providing them with the information and onboarding they need to be successful while giving your own internal team insight into their progress and projects.

This article will show you how to create and manage two types of volunteering projects: one for processing volunteer applications, and another for onboarding them. Then get some with general tips to effectively manage volunteers and their work.

Review and approve volunteer applications in Asana

Before anyone starts volunteering, they usually need to apply and get approved. With a volunteer intake project, you can create a volunteer application form, approve applications, and check on your volunteer pipeline—all in one place.

SCREENSHOT of an Asana volunteer intake project with columns that show where each application stands and custom fields to organize each candidate's skills and interests

Start by creating a project from scratch or importing a spreadsheet where you currently track this work. Create columns in a board for "New submissions," "In review," "Approved," and "Declined." This makes it easy to move each candidate through the process and see where their application stands.

Add a column for "Outreach" so anyone at your org can add a volunteer to your list that might be a fit. You could also move declined applicants here if they could be fit in the future but aren't right now.

1. Make it easy to track more details and organize them with custom fields

Volunteering needs can vary, so by adding custom fields to your project, you can track applicants' specific skills, interests, and availability to ensure they match your org's needs.

SCREENSHOT of a volunteer tracking project showing a list of volunteers with custom fields for timeframes they're available to volunteer

For example, you can create a field around "skills" with options based on needs, like graphic design, social media, fundraising, etc. You could create another field for their total volunteering hours to offer per week to help you figure out their schedule beforehand.

These fields correspond with the fields you'll use in your volunteer application form in the next step!

2. Create a form for volunteer application submissions

To start tracking volunteer applicants, create a form for them to fill out. That way, you start with all the information you need to evaluate their application.

SCREENSHOT of an Asana volunteer intake form example

  1. Head to the Forms tab at the top of your project.
  2. Customize your form to include any fields created in the last step, and create additional ones to help you gauge if they're a fit. For example, you might want an attachment field so they can put their resume or cover letter. You can also include a date-picker field to gauge their available days.
  3. When your form is ready, set it to active and share the link with any applicant or on your website. Anyone can submit a form with Asana even if they don't have an account.
  4. Once submitted, the form will turn into a task in your volunteer intake project.
  5. Now it's up to your team to review and approve the application. Assign the task to the person responsible, and give them a deadline. Make sure they drag the task to the appropriate column so it's clear which stage of review it's in.

Try setting up Rules to automate parts of the submission process. For example, you can auto-assign any new submission to a teammate to review. Or if an applicant indicates one of their skills is social media, you can automatically place their application task in that project so they're on that team's radar.

Once a volunteer gets approved, you're ready to help onboard them! Keep following along.

How to onboard volunteers

1. Use a volunteer onboarding template

Volunteers need to know a lot of information in order to be successful. By setting up an onboarding template, you'll be able to streamline and scale this process. Invite volunteers into your domain as Guests so they start with everything they need and feel supported from day one.

Kickstart your project with our onboarding template then customize it to your needs and save it as your own custom template.

2. Replace email and share news using conversations

Bulk emails that are sent to all volunteers can get messy quickly and core information can easily get lost—not to mention the time your team loses duplicating communications and responding to email. Instead, use Conversations and Status in Asana.

  • Team conversations are a great way to communicate team-wide announcements, celebrate major accomplishments, or talk about multiple projects at a time.
  • Status updates let everybody know how things are going, highlighting the work already completed, upcoming tasks or milestones, as well as possible blockers. You can also use them to give kudos to teammmates! Just @mention them.

These updates will show up in Inbox, where everyone can respond. You can also pin any important comments to the top of a discussion so the most important information is easy to find.

3. Train your volunteers on the Asana basics

Many organizations have their own Asana conventions and onboarding process, but if you don't, it might be helpful to have your new volunteers register for a live training webinar so they can get up to speed quickly.

They can also watch quick video tutorials or read the Asana Guide (where you are right now) to learn at their own pace.

Manage volunteer efforts and bandwidth

Now that you've got your volunteers in Asana, you can check in on volunteer projects all in one place.

GIF of an Asana portfolio of volunteer projects getting sorted into groups to keep them organized

Portfolios provide a central space to organize and monitor work across multiple projects. With Portfolios, you can also get a clear sense of team bandwith with Workload. Start by creating a portfolio, then add projects you want to group together.

This is why getting in the habit of regular status updates is important—your status updates will show up here in one view making it easy for you to keep tabs and see if anything is off.

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