How do you keep volunteers coming back?
Volunteer Retention Tips
Keeping good volunteers is challenging. Yet it is important to keep them coming over the long term. If you can maintain a loyal corps of volunteers, you can get more done for less money, create involvement, and increase your organization’s visibility.
Volunteering is generally considered an altruistic and social activity and is intended to promote causes or improve quality of life. In return, this activity can produce a feeling of self-worth and respect. There is no financial gain involved for the individual. Volunteering is also renowned for skill development, socialization, and fun.
Here are a five tips to keep volunteers coming back again and again.
1. Find Out Volunteers’ Motives
Ask your volunteers right away what they’d like to get from their volunteering, and look for ways to satisfy that. If, for example, a volunteer is hoping to use photography skills, ask her to build up a collection of photos ready for use in your newsletter, annual report, or website. If you have regular volunteers, try to schedule them so that they overlap and can talk with one another. Volunteering is a social activity after all.
2. Tell Volunteers What You Expect
Start by giving each volunteer some formal training. Explain the work of your organization and the volunteer’s place in it, including the importance of seemingly ministerial tasks. Discuss what you normally expect volunteers to do and what more interesting tasks they might “graduate” to after proven good work. You might also want to create a volunteer manual.
3. Make Volunteering Easy
Be open to the flexible hours of volunteers. Make volunteering convenient for the volunteers and not for organization leaders.
Some organizations, for example, ask people to make a general commitment of hours, but then to call ahead and advise the organization of when they’ll actually be putting in those hours. Others may recruit heavily for one-time events, or ask volunteers to take on a particular time-limited project.
4. Make Volunteering Fun
You do not have to through a party every time but, realize that some tasks are innately more fun than others. You need to think innovatively about what tasks volunteers can do. Stuffing envelopes may be boring but, some music and snacks will go a long way.
Remember volunteering should be a fun social activity!
5. Show Appreciation – Some ideas are:
- Say Thank You – early and often
- Plan some organized volunteer-appreciation activities
- Hold a volunteer party
- Give little speeches at events saying how much volunteers have done for your organization – and SAY THANK YOU
- Give out awards, certificates, or small plaques, even if you just print certificates of appreciation yourself