Most organizations rely A LOT on volunteers to make things happen. No matter how big or small an organization is, they all have one thing in common – they feel that they never have enough volunteers.
So what can you do about that? We’ve put together a few simple suggestions to help you retain your volunteers.
Be aware of your volunteer expectations.
Aligning your volunteer’s expectations with your organization’s goals are a key factor in getting and retaining volunteers.
Have realistic goals & decide how your organization will measure those goals.
Communicate which tasks are a priority. Are there any deadlines that need to be met? Place volunteers in areas that are within their comfort zone. Not only will that help you meet your goals, but they won’t get frustrated or overwhelmed in the process.
Create a clear strategy for your volunteer training program.
Training is one of the most important variables of a sustainable organization. Investing in training your volunteers will help make sure that your volunteers know your organization’s goals and expectations and what they can do to help achieve those. Some key things to think about are…
- Do volunteers understand the mission & goals of your nonprofit organization?
- Do they understand the expectations you have of them?
- What do you want to teach volunteers?
- How will you train your volunteers (what specific steps will need to be taken)?
- Who will facilitate the program?
- Where do they go if they have questions/conflicts?
- How do they share with others about your organization?
Get to know them personally.
Volunteers clearly want to build a relationship with your organization or else they wouldn’t have volunteered in the first place. Make sure you are nurturing those relationships. A few ways to do this might be:
- Ask volunteers about their hobbies or what they are interested in
- Ask volunteers to provide their feedback about each role they fill
- Connect with your volunteers on social media
- Write your volunteer thank you notes by hand (more personal!)
- Host a monthly event to introduce your volunteers to other volunteers or staff, creating a sense of community.
Respect your volunteer’s time.
Respect your volunteer’s time, and make the greatest use of their time commitment. There are many ways your volunteers could have chosen to spend that time, and they chose your organization.
Thank them continuously.
Always thank your volunteers and show appreciation for their time, no matter how much or little it is. A few suggestions of things to show appreciation could be…
- A handwritten note
- A quick phone call
- A text or email
- A social media post
- Send flowers
- Invite them to lunch / dinner
The relationship that your nonprofit chooses to have with your volunteers is critical. When volunteers feel appreciated and valued, they will become your biggest advocates and be more than happy to share your mission with others.