Volunteer Management Handbook, Chapter 12 – Communicating with Volunteers and Staff


One of the most important contributors to the relationship that is formed between NPOs and their volunteers is communication. “Research suggests that volunteers who feel more informed about the organization are more satisfied with their relationship with it. Organizations cannot underestimate the importance of keeping an open line of communication with their volunteers and staff.”

This chapter covers the important processes of communication, the way that communication strengthens the relationship between a nonprofit and its volunteers and staff, and new trends and channels being used in the field.

The author explores the process for sustained communication campaigns for volunteer and staff audiences and suggests that research, strategy, and planning are key elements of a successful campaign. In addition, the chapter introduces a number of approaches and tactics that could be used to reach these audiences.

“Communication can be a powerful tool for management of volunteers and staff,” Bortree emphasizes. “When communication is frequent, clear, meaningful, and transparent, it can be an important ingredient in a positive relationship between volunteers, staff, and management. Informing, persuading, and motivating volunteers and staff toward organizational goals can be challenging; however, change is more easily achieved when an organization maintains a positive relationship with these audiences through effective communication.”


Denise Sevick Bortree, PhDDenise Sevick Bortree, PhD
Denise Bortree is a Page Legacy Scholar and Senior Research Fellow, Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication at Pennsylvania State University, where she teaches public relations in the College of Communication. Her research interests include nonprofit communication, volunteerism, and environmental communication.