5 Tips for Creating a Meaningful Volunteer Experience

Guest post by Brad Jamison, Thirty Days of Service

Brad Jamison of Thirty Days of ServiceI recently concluded Thirty Days of Service — 30 service projects with 30 organizations in 30 days. And it was amazing!

While I learned so much about myself, my community and 30 wonderful organizations, I also came away with a few thoughts on how organizations can create meaningful experiences for volunteers. I have honed these down into the following tips:

1. Be prepared

During my 30 days there were a handful of organizations that weren’t really ready for me. As a volunteer, that’s very frustrating and can feel like a waste of time. So, be ready for your volunteers — know what you want them to do and have a backup or two in case they finish early or can’t take on the desired task for some reason.

2. Make it easy

From directions and parking information to proper attire and a day-of contact, provide volunteers with all they will need to support you properly. By making it easy for them to serve, you foster a positive experience from the start, which is key!

3. Keep them busy

There were numerous days during my 30 during which I did a lot of standing around, and it drove me crazy! Start your projects on time, don’t schedule too many breaks and have more tasks for people to do. Yes, you will have some lazy volunteers who don’t want to work too hard, but cater to those who are willing and able to get the work done.

4. Sell, sell, sell

You have a captive audience when you have volunteers, so use it to your advantage and convert them from simple volunteers to passionate supporters. Explain to your volunteers what your organization does and how, specifically, their service helps you fulfill your mission. The more volunteers feel connected the more likely they are to return.

5. Spread the word

If you do the above four things, you will likely have some very happy volunteers. What do you do with them then? Ask them to spread the word about your organization and their experience. I recommend following up with a thank you email that includes a note encouraging them to share their story via social networks. And, make sure they know how to connect people back to you — share your website, Facebook, Twitter, etc. with them.

While there is more to creating a positive volunteer experience for people than five tips, I promise that if you incorporate these into your efforts, it will benefit you. I invite you to have a look at my journey at www.ThirtyDaysOfService.com. While each day of my journey is documented with the intent of inspiring others to volunteer, I think nonprofit organizations can learn a lot about what does and doesn’t work.

Brad Jamison is a pro-social marketing expert who has built a career combining his love of media and his passion for helping others. As an executive and humanitarian, he has leveraged the most powerful mediums to increase awareness, raise millions of dollars, encourage involvement and, above all, make a difference in the lives of others.