Non-profits would not be successful without support from their volunteers. Organizations such as the YMCA, United Way, and Habitat for Humanity are extremely successful because they devote a lot of attention to their volunteer programs and how volunteers are treated. These well-known non-profits are more likely to have more dependable volunteers whereas newer, developing non-profits are more likely to struggle with maintaining a volunteer base.
The following are tips that the Y and other organizations have mastered, and will help keep your volunteers motivated, happy, and wanting to give back more.
Be Respectful and Flexible
Your volunteers may just be numbers to some, but to you they are human beings worthy of receiving respect. Understand when volunteers miss a day and recognize their contribution to the project afterward. Your personal life is a rollercoaster, and so is each on of your volunteers’ lives. Always remember that volunteers are participating out of the goodness of their hearts; no amount of reverence is too much.
Be Organized and Set Concise Goals
As a manager of volunteers, your goal is to leave very little burden on them. That is not to belittle the volunteers, but rather to keep them focused on their duties in a project. Part of alleviating burden on them is to also put trust in others. Pick one volunteer (or more, depending on the size of the project) to be point people. In other words, these are people you trust to send and relay messages to and from their fellow volunteers to you. It should always be clear what goals (short and long term) are set for volunteers to meet. In addition, holding regular meetings to discuss those goals and future opportunities will keep volunteers engaged. With direction from the beginning, volunteers are sure to produce quality results from the start and be happier with their efforts afterwards.
Just as how you feel obligated to attend your office Christmas party, building a community is key to keeping your volunteers returning. When volunteers feel that they are part of a family, when they have obligations to people that they know on a personal level, your volunteers are more likely to continue being devoted volunteers to your organization. This benefits you in a number of ways. For one, consistent volunteers are more familiar with the ins and outs of an organization, they require less training, and they are great recruiters for more volunteers to your organization. Volunteers that are particularly devoted solely to one organization also do more meaningful work in the long run. Creating a sense of family at your non-profit will provide you with a stream of recurring and new volunteers, both indispensable parts of a growing volunteer population.
Have any other tips for helping keep non-profit volunteers happy, motivated, and coming back? E-mail Liza@mobileserve.org !
Want to learn even more about the importance of volunteer engagement? Follow the link below to learn more through our recent webinar with Virtuous!
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