How to keep volunteers coming back

June 27, 2014

How to keep volunteers coming back

A charitable group can't continue to work towards its mission and improve the community it serves unless there are funds available to pay for programs, supplies, outreach efforts and staff salaries. Nonprofits that use the help of volunteers also need to make sure they have best practices in place for attracting and maintaining the efforts of these valuable helpers. Maintaining a strong volunteer base can help charitable groups better reach their goals.

Here are three ways to improve volunteer retention efforts:

  1. Provide a great environment: Having an organized and helpful atmosphere can significantly help convince volunteers to keep contributing their time and effort. According to VolunteerMatch, maintaining a positive atmosphere can encourage those donating their time to keep up their efforts. Having any tools that they may need readily available is important, as is providing some instruction on how to complete a particular project. Offering some basic amenities, such as water and coffee, can also make them feel appreciated – and may even be necessary when the task involved takes place on a hot day or begins in the early morning.
  2. Make sure the processes are understandable: Volunteers have a lot of heart and often some level of experience with the job at hand, but this isn't always the case. Entrepreneur Magazine suggests that staff members at nonprofits put themselves in the place of a volunteer to better understand how they view the actions they're being asked to perform. Going through the process mentally can help organizations identify parts of a task that may be confusing or prone to mistakes. Nonprofits can then take extra care to make sure that directions are as clear as possible and assistance is available.
  3. Motivate and reward: It can be difficult to simply jump into an assignment, especially for first-time volunteers. Having a few staff members participating in the same job can help provide instruction, as well as show volunteers that they aren't the only ones being given the toughest or dirtiest jobs. For participants that show initiative and get a lot done, providing a reward in the form of a leadership position can help keep these valuable people around. Having a token of appreciation, such as a simple meal or an invitation to a future event, can also help provide some encouragement.

Content presented by First Nonprofit Group, the leading provider of state unemployment insurance solutions for 501(c)(3) nonprofit employers.

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