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5 Ways to Retain Volunteers

Every nonprofit needs volunteers, but finding a good volunteer is like finding a hidden treasure. Unfortunately, there isn’t a map labeled with a big X designating where those volunteers are, but once you have good volunteers it’s very important to keep them. Volunteers are invaluable, cherish them like you would a precious gem!

Here’s 5 ways to retain volunteers.

  1. Invite volunteers to be an active part of your community. Many volunteers are able and willing, but don’t know if or how they are needed. A personal invitation to volunteer goes a long way. Explain how their service or giving would make a difference.
  2. Equip volunteers. Communicate clear expectations, give tours of the grounds, introduce them to other team members, and assign them a job that is well-suited for their skill set and will be mutually beneficial for both the volunteer and the nonprofit. Give them any training needed for the task to be completed well.
  3. Say thank you! When volunteers know they are appreciated and valued, they are more apt to continue their volunteerism. A thank you can come in many shapes and sizes, like a hand-written note, public recognition, verbal affirmation, small gifts or large celebration events.
  4. Show their impact. Show them that what they are doing however big or small matters. Volunteers want to contribute to something bigger than themselves and when they are able to see the ways in which their contributions have mattered, it can be life-changing. This can be done with emails, newsletters, and or events.
  5. Respect volunteers. Volunteerism is a choice. The fact that any given volunteer is at your organization is their personal choice. Respect their knowledge and respect their time.
  6. This one is a bonus… Say Thank you! I know I listed it above, but it can’t be said too many times. Being thanked is such a huge part in volunteer retention. Make your volunteers feel valued, appreciated and that they contributed to something that mattered.

 

As a Volunteer Coordinator, I have worked with all different volunteers- 5 year olds, skilled laborers, special needs adults and even 90 year olds! Every volunteer matters! Some volunteers have to be here (for school, community service, etc.…) and others willingly choose to give of their time and resources. One thing, I have seen time and time again, demonstrated through faithful volunteers is a heart of service; it is my favorite part of working with volunteers.

Faith Oates

Volunteer Coordinator

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