Any not-for-profit that has long-term volunteers realizes their value. They save your organization the time and money you would spend training new volunteers. They also become ambassadors and recruiters for your nonprofit. And through their knowledge and experience, long-term, or “repeat,” volunteers add value to your programs.
So how do you keep this precious commodity on board? Here are four ideas:
- Give them the right jobs. Match assignments with volunteers’ skills, but also be open to letting them choose their jobs. Some volunteers want to be challenged and learn something new. Volunteers may be unemployed or underemployed, or may be going back to school to prepare for new careers. In any of these scenarios, what they do as a volunteer is important to them. The experience might help lead to a degree, employment or a better-paying job, which tops the satisfaction of giving their time alone.
- Support and connect with them. Good programs don’t throw their volunteers into the water without a life preserver. Training is one of your most important methods of support. So is your availability when volunteers contact you with questions, or stop by the office. Use these opportunities to make a strong connection. Also take their feedback seriously. Sometimes volunteers can pinpoint problems at your organization that you may be too close to see.
- Put them in touch with their peers. Positive social interactions when volunteering can encourage people to stick with your nonprofit. Enhance relationships by assigning experienced volunteers to mentor novices. And if you have the financial resources, workshops are a great vehicle for building peer (and staff-volunteer) relationships.
- Express your appreciation. Acknowledge your volunteers’ contributions and make them feel valued. A small gift can go a long way, but you don’t have to spend a lot of money to express appreciation. Send a thank-you card, praise dedicated volunteers at a community event or promote them to volunteer leadership positions. Some nonprofits put together “tribute books” online or in print.
For more suggestions on building a robust volunteer program and keeping your best volunteers involved, give us a call.