Take a moment to think of all the ways you can engage your volunteers. There are many ways to reach your supporters but retaining them may be more of a challenge. Your organization spends countless hours training and recruiting volunteers. You put a lot of effort into every volunteer who participates with your organization. Wouldn’t it be nice to retain every volunteer you recruit?
Developing a volunteer program that makes your volunteers feel included and valued can increase your retention rates. Volunteers contribute to organizations because they want to surround themselves with like-minded individuals. Strengthening relationships with your volunteers is key to retaining them. Here are a few ways your nonprofit can bridge the gap between engagement and retention.
Making sure your volunteers are aligned with your mission can increase retention rates. Communicating expectations to your supporters will make sure they are participating for the right reasons. Nonprofits need a lot of volunteers to grow their missions, however; it is important to have the right volunteers.
Communicating expectations during recruitment and training will help ensure you have the right volunteers for your organization. The sooner you make expectations clear the sooner volunteers can decide if they are a good fit for your nonprofit.
Understand Why Volunteers Give Their Time
Getting to know your volunteers can be tremendously valuable. Knowing why volunteers continue to give their time can help you strengthen your relationship with them. Knowing their passion for your cause can help you better connect with them.
Ask questions to understand your volunteers’ motivation. Genuinely listen when you engage in a conversation with your volunteers. You want them to feel as though you are trying to build a connection and not just to trying keep them around. Learning how to better relate to your volunteers can yield lifelong supporters.
Life can be chaotic and crazy at times. Being flexible during events can encourage more volunteers to give their time. If they feel as though your organization is rigid and cannot accommodate their needs, it is likely they will not continue to volunteer. Your organization should have structure but be aware enough to change roles or plans if necessary.
Adaptability will put your volunteers at ease. Volunteers want to be a part of a relaxed environment where they are free to make suggestions and feel their voices are heard. Truly listening to your volunteers will encourage commitment and teamwork among all of your supporters. If your supporters are willing to work together, it makes being flexible so much easier.
Provide a Variety of Volunteer Opportunities
Along with being flexible, providing a variety of volunteer opportunities will help your volunteers feel included. If you create opportunities based on your volunteers’ skill sets it will leave them feeling valuable. Volunteers want to use their skills and expertise to grow your organization.
Creating a variety of volunteer opportunities will help your organization stand out. Volunteering for your nonprofit will be more attractive. When volunteers feel like you listen to their needs, their commitment can strengthen.
Be Personable and Easily Accessible
To be personable, you have to be relatable. Individuals want to feel a connection the moment they meet you. Your nonprofit should make your volunteers feel included and welcomed. Along with being personable, you want your supporters to easily reach you with any question or concern.
Have an open door policy, respond promptly to emails, and ask for feedback. If volunteers feel as though you are easy to reach and are compassionate about their questions, they may feel closer to your organization. This will bridge the gap between engagement and retention.
There are many ways to not only engage potential volunteers but retain them. When recruiting volunteers, think about the lifelong relationships you are trying to cultivate. Developing relationships is key to retaining your volunteers.
The preceding is guest post by Ashley Chorpenning, Marketing Communications Specialist for VolunteerHub, a cloud-based volunteer management software application that offers online event registration, email and SMS (text) messaging, report generation, and much more.