Update: This blog post was updated in July 2021 with additional updated information regarding the best practices for retaining volunteers in organizations.
6 Strategies for Volunteer Retention
Effective volunteer retention strategies help organizations keep their mission alive among volunteers. No matter how big or small an organization is, they all have similar questions, like: How do you increase your volunteer retention rate? What can you do to keep volunteers motivated? What are best practices for managing volunteers?
1. Understand Your Volunteer’s Expectations
Aligning your volunteer’s expectations with your organization’s goals are a key factor in getting and retaining volunteers. A successful volunteer is one who is fully on board and cooperative with your organization’s mission and goals. Consider utilizing a volunteer satisfaction survey to ask your volunteers questions and invite feedback about their role in the organization
2. Establish Realistic and Measurable 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.
3. Implement a 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?
4. Make Personal Relationships with Volunteers
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.
5. Show Respect Toward Volunteers
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.
6. Thank Your Volunteers
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.