National Volunteer Week 2017 has come to an end, but treating your volunteers well should be a priority each and every one of the other 51 weeks.
In celebration of National Volunteer Week, we compiled our top five tips to motivate your volunteers and keep them coming back. Feel free to download these graphics and share them on your own social media!
Say Thank You
The most effective way to pave the way for a long-term volunteer relationship is to show your gratitude and say thank you. It’s simple and oh, so effective. Saying thank you doesn’t always have to look the same, either. Some things you can do to thank your volunteers include showing them the bigger picture if they’re working on mundane tasks, feeding them (because who doesn’t love free food?) or publicly thanking them on social media. I’ve even seen organizations host award shows for volunteers, rewarding them for everything from “Hardest Worker” to “Best Shoes.”
Build a Community
Everyone loves to be included, and your volunteers aren’t any different. Build a community and invite them into that community. It will help volunteers feel both appreciated and a part of something, rather than volunteering for a few hours and moving on with their life. Building communities will also help your organization create a tribe and deepen relationships with your supporters.
Equip and Train
If you don’t give volunteers the right tools and training to be successful at the task you give them, it will leave volunteers feeling like they’ve failed and frustrated. Equipping volunteers with the right tools—whether they’re actual, physical tools or software—will help you get the level of work your organization needs to thrive. It’ll help volunteers feel like they accomplished something and did their job well, too. Plus, you’ll get a higher quality of work on the back end.
Respect Their Time
It’s in the name: volunteers are volunteering their time and talents. No one is making them volunteer (usually). Making a point to set time parameters for specific tasks will help a volunteer know what to expect before going into a volunteer task. Sticking to that time frame will build trust and respect in the eyes of your volunteer, which will help them feel comfortable coming back and volunteering for you again.
Show Their Impact
I recently spoke with a friend about this, and one of the most frustrating things they’ve dealt with as a volunteer was spending five straight days in another city helping out with disaster relief. They helped rebuild a house that was destroyed by a tornado, but never got to see the end result. To this day, they wonder if the 40 hours of work that week was worth it, or if it really made a difference to the end goal. Keep volunteers around and help them feel appreciated by showing the part they played in the impact your organization strives for.
Volunteer recruitment and retention isn’t an exact science. It’s a relationship and a friendship you’re constantly building and maintaining with supporters, but these tips are a great place to start. A volunteer is one of the most “bought-in” supporters of your organization, so letting them know how important their work is, thanking them and building communities around your cause are key in getting reliable volunteers. Respecting your volunteers and their time will help to keep them coming back. Giving them the right tools and training to be successful not only benefits your volunteers, but also increases the quality of work you’re receiving.