Guest post by Sandra Weiss
When discussing volunteer recruitment, management and retention practices, much has been written about the motivations of volunteers and why they become volunteers in the first place. Identifying what drives and inspires volunteers has been recognized as a very important aspect for nonprofit organizations to keep in mind.
Many volunteers take up volunteering to add meaning to their lives. Most people intrinsically believe that the meaning of life has something to do with helping people, and volunteering can feel like you are in harmony with that.
After all, when asked why they volunteer, many people say simply, “To make a difference” or “It’s something I believe is important.”
Being able to adequately communicate to your volunteers the meaning and value of their contribution to your organization can go a long way in developing successful volunteer retention policies and practices (rather than focusing on rewards and incentives as stimulus).
Here are 5 ways to communicate to your volunteers the meaning and value of their contribution:
1. Keep volunteers informed.
Via a newsletter or e-bulletin that you can send out to your volunteers via email. This is very effective for keeping everyone ‘in the loop’ on developments and achievements, and a relatively cost effective way to do it.
2. Keep it real.
Passing on authentic and thoughtful feedback to your volunteers about the outcome of their efforts should be a big part of your management practices.
3. Encourage involvement of volunteers in planning.
Asking volunteers for their input or thoughts via a suggestion box can be an easy and effective way to encourage volunteer engagement in the overall mission of your organization and make them feel part of it.
4. Recognize truly selfless acts.
When a volunteer goes beyond the call of duty or does something special, recognize it.
5. Enable a path for volunteers to thrive in their role.
Developing a way for volunteers to grow and develop in their role can help to not only show the volunteer you value their contribution, but also to inspire the volunteer. Give them the opportunity to take on more responsibility, and provide them something to work towards within the framework of the organization’s overall goals, therefore increasing the meaning of their role and tasks.
Sandra Weiss has been volunteering since her childhood, beginning with the Wilderness Girl Group. While in her younger years she was happy helping and being involved— enjoying the fun and camaraderie of volunteering, as she has gotten older the yearning to help save the world has now become her first priority. She believes the question ‘What is the meaning of life‘ should be on everyone’s mind.