Don’t just attract volunteers—keep them coming back

Once you’ve found them, how can you better retain volunteers for your nonprofit? Obviously, volunteers come and go: even your most committed helpers will change jobs, move away, or take on extra responsibilities elsewhere that will affect their availability. But there are several actions you can take to ensure that they have a positive experience with your organization, which will in turn make them more willing to come back or encourage their friends to lend some aid. Here are our top 3 tips.

Be respectful of their time and effort

Volunteers have come to you because they want to help out. Make sure that when they come, you keep them occupied with meaningful work. If they feel like their presence is a waste of time, they may consider their help unnecessary and they won’t come back.

At the same time, don’t exhaust them. Your volunteers will need training, breaks, and a good support team. If their entire time with you is stressful and draining, they will struggle to keep up their commitment in the future.

Show them you appreciate their effort

Thank them frequently, individually, and specifically. Show them that you see the hard work they’re doing and that you recognize their effort. This is a basic emotional need that we all share, and it’s a simple habit to form.

Make it social

May people volunteer as a way of creating a social network. And even if that isn’t their intended purpose when they first come, it can be one of the main reasons why they stay. Make sure that your volunteers get to work together, either with other volunteers or with folk on your staff. Also, consider holding some volunteer bonding events to help pull your team together and create a sense of community. Show them that you care when they come and that they’ll be missed when they leave.

Published 06/14/16 by Laura Lynch