Guest post by Torri Myler
Volunteers are essential. They give your nonprofit the power to make a difference.
However, the unfortunate reality of employing many volunteers is that, with time, some of their fire will burn out. The nature of ongoing volunteer projects is that people will come and go.
The loss of volunteers is unfortunate not only because of the gaps it leaves behind, but because someone with experience and familiarity of the work is gone, leaving you to replace then with a new volunteer who will then have to work his or her way up to that same status. Retaining your talented volunteers is far gentler on time and resources than bringing in new ones. And it doesn’t have to be a challenge to improve your retention rates. Here are four ways to ensure you have the best volunteer retention rates possible.
1. Place Them Correctly
These individuals are volunteering for your organization because they feel that your cause or purpose fits in with their life and their values. Volunteer work is much more personal than paid work and requires a higher level of passion.
Figure out what your volunteers do in their everyday lives. Some of them may be teachers, or artists, or amateur chefs. Tying their duties to their hobbies or areas of skill will not only engage them to their best potential, but it will engage another level of their passion. Assigning individuals to tasks that aren’t very relevant to their skillset can frustrate them, and frustrated people will prefer to spend their time elsewhere. Giving everyone their perfectly suited role will create a greater sense of community among your volunteers, causing them to maintain interest in your cause, but also a closeness with each other.
2. Show Them Their Results
Volunteering is not an entirely selfless act, and it shouldn’t be. For the time your volunteers put in, they deserve to feel a sense of accomplishment and success as a result of their efforts. If you take the time to give them a better understanding about how they’re impacting a project, they won’t feel disheartened, or like they’ve wasted their time. You’ll foster a sense of empowerment and show your volunteers how they matter, and what they’re capable of achieving.
3. Give Them Options
When it comes to volunteering, not everyone will be equal to one standard task. When fundraising, for instance, some volunteers may be candid enough to ask directly for donations, while others will feel uncomfortable doing so. If possible, provide different tasks and jobs for your volunteering projects. And if a certain volunteer position is not a great fit for someone, don’t be afraid to tell them so.
4. Keep in Touch
Projects and campaigns will come and go. Your volunteers have their lives to manage and their jobs to tend do, and at times they may not be as mindful to monitor what you have going on.
Using a self-serve model is ineffective, because volunteering will likely sit further back in people’s minds. How do you fix this? Keeping a mailing list and regularly updating social media is an excellent way to stay in the lives of your volunteers, who will receive reminders and updates on a regular basis about how to pursue continued involvement.
About the author: Torri Myler is a team member at BankOpening.co.uk, a UK bank branches opening and closing times repository. She has a strong volunteering background herself and believes that volunteers make the world a better place.