Volunteers are the heart and soul of any nonprofit organization, but several nonprofit organizations struggle with volunteer turnover. Regardless of your organization, there will always be volunteers that leave for a variety of reasons. But doing a few things can help you keep your volunteers longer.
So how do you attract and keep good volunteers? Understand their motivation. People only volunteer their time, money, and effort to something they believe in. Feed their motivation. Create conversation and get to know your volunteers.
Another way to keep people interested in your organization is to allow them to use their skills to better your organization. For example, Crossroads Church allows member to volunteer wherever they want. I’m good with technology and production, so I don’t want to work in the nursery. People who are forced to try to use a skill they don’t have are less likely to stay with your organization because they aren’t enjoying their time there. You still need to keep a challenge for your volunteers so they don’t get bored, but make sure it’s one they enjoy. Many volunteers are looking for new skill sets, but they’re also looking to be the experts on the skills they already have.
Recognize the service of your volunteers. Many organizations tend to take their volunteers for granted. After all, the volunteer has decided to devote time and effort to the organization. Never underestimate the value of a simple, “thank you.” People appreciate when you notice their hard work and dedication. You don’t have to reward them with a physical gift, but showing some appreciation always helps.
Invest in your own organization. By keeping your organization updated and improving, your organization only gets better. Investing in your organization allows you to serve more people in need as well as your volunteers. Many volunteers leave organizations because of out of date equipment or cramped workspaces that may hinder them from getting work done. This can be frustrating for people who are trying to make a difference.
Another overlooked component of keeping volunteers is communication. Never underestimate the power of communicating with your volunteer. Make sure your volunteer receives clear day-to-day instructions on their assigned task. Volunteers may not do what they’re supposed to if they are unclear about what needs done. It also frustrates volunteers when they show up and there’s nothing for them to do. Communication also allows relationships between volunteers, employees, and the community to be built. Communication is key for any organization to run smoothly and effectively.
Attracting and keeping volunteers is common sense, but sometimes due to time constraints and general operation, these simple things get overlooked. It’s important to put clients and volunteers first because they are the bread and butter of your organization; the best way to do this is through communication.