Learning to keep your volunteers engaged is vital to a successful organization.
It’s no secret to any nonprofiteer that volunteers are the engine that keep your vehicle moving. We’ve said it here before and we’ll say it again; Volunteers are the lifeblood of any nonprofit organization and the sooner you believe that, the more success you will have in developing an appropriate volunteer strategy for your nonprofit org.
Here are 10 interesting ideas to keep your volunteers engaged, in-tune with the mission, striving for better results, and motivated to keep pushing the envelope to solve the cause.
Great Ways to Keep your Volunteers Engaged
1. Acknowledge their Contribution
Like mentioned, this is the least you can do as founder or high-positioned leader at a nonprofit. Don’t get caught in the trappings of day-to-day stresses so much that you forget that these are people volunteering their time to be there for you.
Show them your appreciation in more ways than one; even a simple verbal, in-person acknowledgment goes a long way in keeping your volunteers engaged and going.
2. Make Sure Volunteers Understand their Role
As a volunteer, and assuming you’ve volunteered before for other organizations in your life, you can probably relate to being thrusted into a position where the role isn’t clearly defined and you struggle to get your footing in a hectic environment.
It makes you feel helpless, you lose confidence, you can’t feel motivated, and most importantly – you feel unimportant to the overall cause.
Instead of making your volunteers feel this way, you should spend time ensuring that your volunteers understand and feel comfortable with their role. Sometimes, this will mean more than just fielding their questions. Prepare their role, clearly define it, and make sure it is explained well.
3. Give them Someone to Talk To
Especially in larger organizations, sometimes the person who does the hiring isn’t the one which everyday volunteers should report to. However, sometimes a volunteer isn’t told who can answer their questions. This makes them feel uncomfortable in approaching anyone.
Make sure your volunteer has their go-to person in case they need anything!
4. Keep Volunteers Well-Supplied
Nothing is worse than feeling your hands are tied as a volunteer and your impact is limited. As someone in high position in the organization, make sure your volunteers have what they need to reach their full potential and the potential of the cause.
Don’t expect them to bring their own magic. Provide them the means to have it at their fingertips.
5. Allow for Change in Day-to-Day Role
One thing that will leave a volunteer feeling unmotivated is being put into an unmotivated position.
It’s true that there are things within an organization which must be done which aren’t fun or fulfilling. A good volunteer will understand this and accept these tasks just as they would any. However, don’t keep them stagnant in that role.
Make sure there is a balance between the day-to-day tasks that must be done and work that makes them feel fulfilled as a volunteer. Ensuring this will go a long way in keeping their motivation.
6. Open Your Door to Communication
So, you’re the head honcho, are ya? Congratulations to you. Now, you have a decision to make; what kind of leader will you be?
If you have an army of people working below you – no matter the size – you have a role to play in their success. Make sure you don’t get too busy to leave that door of communication between you and your team (even the daily volunteers) wide open.
Invite communication, make it easy, and hear your volunteers.
7. Share their Successes
Everybody wants to be recognized and everybody wants to be celebrated. Recognize your volunteers successes and share them.
This could come in the form of small office celebrations, promotions, monthly volunteer recognition, or simply a Facebook post that shines a spotlight on their good work. Make it what you can routinely and consistently find time for, but make sure you do it.
8. Accept to Hear Volunteer’s Ideas
Volunteers come to your organization to offer a hand because they are passionate about your cause. Often, they are driven to find solutions just as much as you. Not only that, but they arrive with new perspective and fresh ideas.
Let them share their ideas with you – and most importantly, make them feel as though their ideas are being heard. Consider each of them seriously.
You can do this by implementing a system that encourages idea-sharing and an environment where no voice goes unheard.
9. Help them Develop New Skills
A volunteer gives you his or her time. Time is a precious commodity in this world. Give them something in-return.
No, it doesn’t have to cost you.
Give them the gift of learning and education. If nothing else, allow them to learn new skills, pick-up new ways of thinking, or educate them further on your cause. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but giving back what they give you is important.
10. Be the Influence You Need to Be
Ultimately, as founder or manager, an organization catches the mood that you lay down. Volunteers will recognize a lackluster environment easier than everyday employees.
Make sure you bring to the team what you expect them to give. Be enthusiastic, be confident, be fun – be exactly what you need to be to them to keep them motivated.
Keeping Your Volunteers Motivated
There are dozens of techniques and ways to keep your volunteers striving toward a common goal. First and foremost, you must give them the recognition they deserve. Remember, no one is requiring them to show up for you every day. They are just as much a part of this battle as you are.
We’re sure, by following these simple volunteer motivation tips, you’ll be well on your way to finding a dedicated team of people who want to help the cause.