Guest post by Kelly Smith
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.
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.