This week Americans opened up their hearts and wallets on Giving Tuesday to fund the much needed efforts of not-for-profit organizations across a range of causes. If your organization participated in Giving Tuesday, we hope you had a hugely successful day.
But while money is always a need for nonprofits, equally critical is having a strong volunteer base. That’s why keeping volunteers committed for the long haul needs to be a priority.
Here are six recommendations to get and keep volunteers motivated.
Understand motivations: Often volunteer leave because their expectations weren't met. Someone may look forward to hands on work with animals but your need is having someone answer phones or respond to emails. Ask questions and get to the heart of what motivates each of your volunteers and try to accommodate them as much as possible.
Be inspirational: Volunteers may be drawn to your cause but your continued success will be the inspiration that keeps them committed. That’s why you want to make sure volunteers are continually up to date on your achievements and the long-term impact of what you are doing. Volunteers also need to understand the challenges you face. Their continual support will come from knowing they truly are making a difference.
Be specific: When assigning responsibilities to your volunteers, be specific. Give your volunteers very actionable tasks with deadlines if that is required so that they know exactly what is expected and when. Being specific also means that you should provide training and guidance if it’s needed to help a volunteer meet your objectives.
Show appreciation: Don’t ever take your volunteers for granted. Tell them often how much you appreciate their help. Your organization could not succeed without their support so make sure volunteers know this. Sending the occasional message to a volunteer to thank them, holding a volunteer appreciation activity and acknowledging volunteer achievements on social media go a long way in keeping volunteers committed.
Accommodate: Be as flexible as possible with volunteers. While getting a commitment of time from a volunteer may be necessary to your organization, understand that volunteers are juggling other work and family responsibilities. Try to accommodate their schedules.
Be open to input: Your volunteers have expertise and experiences in areas you may not. Encourage their input. You may not be able to make the changes they suggest right away, but consider them for future implementation if they can enhance your organization.
Managing volunteers takes work. But managing volunteers is far less work than trying to do everything
with limited resources.