The face of volunteering is changing. Many volunteers now have own career goals in mind, or have their own ideas to implement. Another recent volunteer trend is a shift away from regular, long term positions to “episodic volunteering,” also called one-time volunteering. While episodic volunteering can create challenges for many organizations, it also provides some great benefits as well.

Why Episodic Volunteering?

Volunteers today have busier and more inconsistent schedules than volunteers in the past. Most families have both parents working full-time, and retirees are spending more of their time on travel and extracurricular activities. These people have strong desire to volunteer, but an inability to commit to a consistent volunteer schedule.

The reality is that more and more of these volunteers are looking for ways to get engaged in the short-term, and organizations who offer these opportunities are seeing a great increase in engagement.

Benefits of Episodic Volunteering

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  • Increased awareness of your organization and its mission
  • Engagement from potential volunteers who otherwise could not be involved
  • Influx of new ideas and perspectives
  • Critical support during your organization’s busiest times, such as around the holidays

How to Create Episodic Volunteer Opportunities

Creating episodic volunteering opportunities can be a significant challenge to organizations that depend on consistency, such as tutoring services, health monitoring and gardening. However, it is still possible for every organization to have at least one episodic volunteer opportunity, at least once in a while.

There’s no need for an organization to restructure its regular volunteer positions to accommodate episodic volunteers. Instead, create one-time volunteer opportunities that can increase awareness of your mission and provide a little extra help. Opportunities can include fun events like family service days, fundraisers, or seasonal help when your organization is especially busy,

Episodic volunteers may only be seeking the satisfaction of volunteering at first, but with every positive experience, they’ll want to come back, and over time may become dedicated long-term volunteers themselves. In this way, episodic volunteering can become part of your organization’s strategy to recruit, retain and engage volunteers – and that will make it well worth the effort.