Afraid of Losing Volunteers? Start Giving Constructive Criticism.

Guest post by Monique Goodyer

Offering Constructive Feedback is an Important Part of a Volunteer ProgramYou’ve shed blood, sweat and tears getting enough volunteers to join your nonprofit.

(At least it feel like that sometimes; am I right?)

And even when they need it the most, you are afraid to give feedback or constructive criticism. Why risk loosing your hard-earned volunteers?

This situation describes the thought process of many nonprofits. While the logic may have some appeal, this way of thinking is actually counter-intuitive and hurting your organization!

Creating a constructive feedback loop for your volunteers will make them feel more valued, as well as increase the quality of your volunteer program. In short, they will be more likely to stick around.

Formal Guidelines
The first step in providing constructive feedback is setting up appropriate guidelines and expectations prior to work. The aim is to make volunteers understand they are helping a worthy cause and they can develop vital skills through volunteering. This will make constructive feedback a normal course of their development.

Some procedures that you should consider include: establishing a chain of command, clearly defining their role, outlining outcomes and showing the potential impact of their work.

The Feedback
A useful and easy technique to master for giving constructive feedback is called: The Sandwhich Theory. This is where you ‘wrap’ the feedback within two positive statements, so the structure looks like a sandwich.

When you are giving positive feedback, make sure it is sincere and not generic. For instance, you should not say “Good work” but instead say: “I love your positive attitude, you’re always the first to arrive at work”.

When offering feedback on how a volunteer can improve, delivery is very important. Avoid any words or phrases that put others in a defensive state of mind. For instance, avoid phrases such as “you should not do X” but instead focus on phrases such as “a better way of doing X might be Y”. Your tone and manner should also be very calm and open.

By the end, volunteers should be fully aware of the areas they need to improve in as well as their strengths.

Constructive feedback is very important to develop volunteering skills and improve the quality of your operations. By implementing formal guidelines and giving feedback in friendly manner, you can forget about the fear of losing volunteers.

Do you agree? What has your experience been with constructive criticism and feedback for volunteers? Let us know in the comments!

Monique Goodyer works at Monaco Compensation Lawyers, one of Australia’s compensation law firms.

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