Guest post by Shayla Price
Retaining great volunteers is always a challenge for any nonprofit. The holiday season brings an influx of new volunteers, however after Santa disappears, organizations usually notice a decrease in volunteer interest.
To reap maximum benefits from the holiday rush, nonprofit staff must fuel community involvement and re-engage their volunteers. Below are a few simple yet strategic steps to retain new volunteers:
Tap into your volunteers’ motives.
Be mindful that not all volunteers give time just for the progress of your cause. Individuals may want to meet new people or develop certain skill sets. Not understanding your volunteers’ motives can result in dissatisfied people and can lead to negative reviews. So always ask individuals why they decided to volunteer. Then, you can focus on how you can fulfill those desires.
Inform volunteers of your expectations.
Training is key in volunteer management. Explain the nature of your organization’s work and how the volunteer work will fulfill a need in the community. Do not skip any minor details – tackle everything from the minimum commitment hours to your nonprofit’s managerial policies. Give people a complete overview of what you expect from them, and leave no stone unturned.
Make volunteering convenient.
Know the schedules of your volunteers and work around their most convenient times. Your best source of daytime volunteer work would be freelancers with flexible schedules. College students may contribute to your evening shifts, and parents will likely have more time during the weekends. Plot a course of action that will be helpful to all parties involved.
Ensure the volunteer experience is memorable.
You do not have to host a party everyday, but it’s important to ensure volunteers are enjoying their work. For example, if your nonprofit works directly with dogs, give the office volunteers opportunities to interact with the animals. A little interaction can allow volunteers to build personal connections to your mission.
Always show appreciation.
Every volunteer wants to know and feel that he or she is making a significant difference in advancing the organization’s cause. It’s your goal to convey a message of appreciation to your volunteers. Make sure your volunteers feel valued by:
- Sending a handwritten thank you note.
- Hosting an annual volunteer celebration.
- Inviting volunteers to attend VIP events.
Retaining volunteers centers around building mutually beneficial relationships. Let your volunteers see and realize the positive effect of their efforts.
Today, I challenge you to learn strategies to improve your volunteer program – share how you’re doing it in the comments below!
Shayla Price is the Executive Director of the National Search Dog Alliance. She also teaches the online course Scholarship Winner: Earn Free Money for College.
(Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)