8 Ways to Keep Volunteers

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8 Wonderful Ways to Keep Volunteers Coming Back

by Yvonne Hudson

1. Thank your volunteers and thank them again. Show appreciation in varied ways and always mention volunteers who make your organizational successful.

2. Reward your volunteers. Volunteers have many motivations. While they are supportive of your mission, making connections, being seen at your events, and becoming more immersed in the experiences of your staff and constituents are all perks with appeal. Remember that some individuals volunteer to have more contact with others in event and social settings. Some of your most dedicated volunteers may be easing back into work-related settings after retirement, the loss of spouse, as grandchildren have left for college. Get to know your volunteers and what excites them about what you do.

3. Provide an experience connected to your cause. Nurture engagement–not just tasks needed by your organization. The stories of those whose lives are enriched or changed by your nonprofit’s work will inspire your volunteers.

4. Create a community or team from your volunteers base. Connecting your volunteers and maintaining open communication channels among your staff and volunteers help to build community. In person thanks and feedback events are the best ways to fuel connection between volunteer work opportunities. These can be supported by electronic  (such as discussion forums) and feedback tools (like surveys) but there’s nothing like thanking volunteers with a party or just picking up the phone.

5. Share your volunteers’ success stories to demonstrate the importance difference they make. Showcase your volunteers and how their time and talent contribute to your organization’s growth.

6. Honor top volunteers in both big and small ways. Small recognition efforts mean a lot. Volunteers understand that the constituents receiving your programs and services are top priorities. But those donating their time and assistance will appreciate being recognized by name in print, online, and in event settings. A token or certificate for volunteer service is always a nice touch. Consider designating a “Volunteer of the Month” recognition or something that occasionally features volunteers in your newsletter, social media, and other outlets.

7.  Cultivate your volunteers for bigger roles. Your volunteers may also be leaders — staff, advisors, board members, and consultants. Your volunteer pool may yield not only other human resources, but donors. Sure you’ll have volunteers who just want to show up and assist with whatever task you provide. However, care and feeding of all of your volunteers is critical for your organization’s reputation and growth.

8. Grow your volunteer pool through recruitment of volunteers by…your volunteers! Word of mouth is great advertising. Your volunteers are likely your best recruitment asset. Provide ways for volunteers to invite others to join them. Gather information about the best way to reach the contacts of your volunteers and provide information in what ever medium is more easily shared by members of your volunteer pool.

Think about who volunteers with your organization. Know them well enough to make the best assignments and to provide the perks that will make your volunteers keep coming back–and telling others about your mission and the roles they play in your success.

Check out these links for more on volunteers, from our partner site Third Sector Today:

Volunteers can tackle your tough tech tasks

Engaging volunteers for event night success

So many perks – So many volunteers!

Volunteers: the missing link

About author

Yvonne Hudson

Yvonne Hudson, principal of New Place Collaborations in Pittsburgh, loves creating mission-driven solutions for clients. Her extensive experience as a marketer in higher education, arts, and business informs strategies for TopNonprofits, The Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management of Robert Morris University, Pittsburgh Festival Opera, and other businesses and nonprofits. As a nonprofit staff member, board member, and volunteer, she has participated in aspects of capacity-building including programming, fundraising, and audience development for organizations in New York, Washington, DC, and Pittsburgh. A speaker, singer, and mentor, she enjoys presenting and acting, including her long-running solo show Mrs Shakespeare and is a board member of Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks and a past vice president of New York Women in Communications.