5 Ways to Motivate Your Nonprofit’s Volunteers

Guest post by Kelly Smith

Hands in the center, helping out volunteering.Volunteering has become a popular solution for people who not only have got some time on their hands, but also want to build a better community or help those who need assistance.

As a nonprofit leader, you’re probably aware that volunteers are the heart and soul of your organization – it’s their smiles and hard work that enable you to push your cause forward. That’s why it’s essential that you constantly motivate them and make them feel a part of a close community. Here are five smart ways to start motivating your nonprofit’s volunteers right now:

1. Know their reasons for volunteering.

In order to keep your volunteers engaged and motivated, you need to first understand the reasons behind their decision to volunteer. Whether they do it to feel good about themselves, acquire new skills or just to make a difference, you’re the one that needs to gather this information and apply it, creating a volunteer program that fosters long-term commitment.

2. Communicate!

This is probably the easiest and most effective way of keeping up your volunteers’ motivations. Good communication is key to managing the expectations and responsibilities of your workers, but in order for it to really work you need to be able to listen, as well.

Welcome suggestions and feedback. Show volunteers that their opinions matter – what you’ll get in return will be people willing to do their best to improve your organization.

3. Show your appreciation.

Even though their volunteering comes from a real passion and good heart, your volunteers still want to be appreciated for what they do. If their efforts are not being recognized, they’re more likely to ditch the cause and become less and less available.

How to appreciate them? Simply by saying ‘thank you!’ You could also consider giving out rewards, incentives, or organizing events that show how the success of your organization is based on the great work done by your volunteers.

4. Show them how they made a difference.

There’s no better method of keeping up the motivation of your volunteers than by letting them see the results of their hard work. Seeing a child who after months of tutoring is finally able to read a whole book out loud is a sight no volunteer will ever forget.

5. Provide social recognition.

Volunteers can have their work recognized not only internally, but externally as well. You can use social media to your advantage – for example, post a photo depicting volunteers in action on your organization’s Facebook wall. Seeing all the likes and comments will warm their hearts with joy and provide a great source of motivation.

So don’t hesitate! Start working on your motivation strategies right now – every investment in your volunteers pays back with an immeasurable passion and willingness to work for an important cause.

Kelly Smith works at CourseFinder, an Australian online education resource. She also provides career advice for students and job seekers. She is interested in volunteering opportunities in Australia.

4 Minutes to Help Everyone Learn about Volunteer Appreciation

Thank You cake for Calabazas Library volunteers.

Thank You cake for Calabazas Library volunteers.

Boy, do we appreciate our volunteers. The time, passion and talent given by these generous people makes the difference when it comes to creating impact for our communities and the world. They are the best.

But how do we appreciate them? And how does the way we appreciate our volunteers compare to how other organizations show volunteer appreciation?

VolunteerMatch has partnered with txtMovies.com, a company that enables you to send customers, prospects, volunteers, employees and survey respondents movie rental codes, to learn about volunteer appreciation practices across the nonprofit sector.

To do so, we’ve created a super quick, 4-minute survey. The results will help us all better understand volunteer appreciation at nonprofits, and will enable organizations like VolunteerMatch to provide more support and resources to help your organization! (You’ll also be entered to win 25 free movie codes for your nonprofit.)

Please contribute to this important research by taking the quick survey right now! Then stay tuned for updates from Engaging Volunteers to see the results when we publish them.

Take this 4-minute survey from VolunteerMatch and txtMovies.com about volunteer appreciation!

Here’s How You Measure Volunteer Impact

The results are in - check out the Volunteer Impact ReportRemember back in May, 2014 when we launched a survey asking you how you determine the effect volunteer work has on your mission?

The results are in!

55% of nonprofits measure volunteer impact.
Tweet this stat!

Check out this clean, easy-to-read, chart-heavy report we produced in partnership with volunteer technology review firm Software Advice that presents the metrics, indicators and data collection methods nonprofits use to measure volunteers’ impact on their organizations’ outcomes.

In other words, check out this report to see how what YOU do compares to what everyone ELSE does to track volunteer impact at your organizations.

The first ever volunteer impact report from VolunteerMatch and Software Advice.

17% of nonprofits saw an increase in funding as a result of measuring volunteer impact. Tweet this stat!

Hopefully, this report will help you determine areas for improvement, and provide inspiration for how you can best measure the impact of your volunteer program on your nonprofit, your community and your cause.

What do you think of the Volunteer Impact Report? How do the results compare to how your organization tracks volunteer impact? Let us know!

*Special thanks to our partners Software Advice for administering the survey, analyzing the data and producing the report!

Best Practices: Thanking Volunteers Using Online Surveys

Editor’s note: Sometimes it’s the tools themselves that provide the best inspiration. In this case, some folks from an online movie rental company have suggestions for how to show your volunteers some appreciation…

Guest post by Brianna Weinstein & B.C. Ung

Recognize volunteers via online surveys and incentives!

Free movies are a great way to say “thanks!”

Each year millions of volunteers donate their time to nonprofits expecting nothing in return except to feel good about the effort they contributed. They assist your organization because they believe in your cause and hope to make a difference.

Yet, many times, the first volunteer experience doesn’t go as planned and the volunteer for a variety of reasons doesn’t continue to support the organization with a donation of their time.


In the blog post Nonprofit Volunteers: Top Five Tips to Keep Them Coming, author Ilona Bray, J.D., highlights 5 critical activities your organization must do to engage new volunteers including:

  1. Tap Into Volunteers’ Motives
  2. Tell Volunteers What You Expect
  3. Make Volunteering Convenient
  4. Make Volunteering Fun
  5. Show Appreciation

While each of these activities is equally important for volunteer engagement many nonprofits struggle with cost effective ways to Show Appreciation (#5).

At txtMovies, we’ve noticed a trend where nonprofits are using online surveys to show appreciation and at the same time collect valuable feedback.

You might think that making a volunteer fill out a survey doesn’t sound like you’re showing them much appreciation. And we would agree that a 75 question survey that takes 45 minutes to complete would not seem like sincere gratitude.

However, a well-designed, brief survey (think <4 minutes to fill out) that includes a survey incentive, such as a “movie of their choice,” is a great way to say “we appreciate you” and “we value your opinion”.

In this regard, how can your organization benefit from this approach?

What if you could better understand why volunteers donate their time on an individual basis?

  • What if you could determine if a volunteer’s service met their expectations?
  • What if you could learn how to make it more convenient for volunteers to donate their time.
  • What if you could discover what aspects of their service most appealed to each volunteer?
  • What if you could do all of the above and show volunteers your appreciation at the same time?

Now we know what you’re thinking. This sounds time consuming and expensive. The reality is far different. Most online survey software is easy to use and free (or at least discounted for nonprofit organizations). And treating volunteers to a “movie of their choice” via txtMovies is only $1.99 per movie. Not exactly a budget buster.

So if your organization relies upon volunteers, try showing them your appreciation using online survey incentives. By analyzing and acting on the feedback you receive, you could potentially increase the number and quality of volunteers who sincerely want to contribute to your cause.

Briana Weinstein is an undergraduate scholar athlete at the University of Southern California. B.C. Ung is a board advisor to txtMovies and has volunteered for Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Boys and Girls Clubs in a fundraising capacity.

(Photo from AFS-USA Intercultural Programs on Flickr.)

Use This Awesome Free Graphic to Say “Thanks!” to Your Volunteers

Happy FestiVOL! As part of this week’s celebration of everything that’s fun about volunteering, here’s a super cool graphic that you can customize to show your volunteers how much you appreciate them.

Customize this cool graphic to show your volunteers how much you appreciate them for National Volunteer Week and FestiVOL!

Click here to easily customize and download the graphic, and then share it on your blog, on social media and over email, and be sure to use the hashtag #VolunteerHeroes to share inspiring stories.

Great job Nonprofit Toolkit for coming up with this graphic – we can always use more super heroes in this world! Make sure you thank the ones who are already helping your organization.

How are you celebrating National Volunteer Week? Let us know using hashtag #FestiVOL!