Keeping Volunteers Engaged
by Alisha Pawa
I have been in fundraising for over five years. I have worked in small shop organizations with a staff of five, as well as a larger organization with more than 55 staff. These charities all had different goals, different ways of achieving their goals, and different communities to engage with. But, they all share one major theme: valuing and loving their volunteers.
So what’s the best ways to keep your volunteers happy and have them coming back year after year? Here are my five best ways to keep volunteers engaged with your organization and loving you in the long run.
- Be prepared – Keep in mind that time is a very valuable commodity, especially in terms of volunteers giving their time to your organization to help support a great cause. Have work organized and assign tasks to each volunteer. If you have ten volunteers, know what you would like for each and every volunteer to be doing before they arrive and let them know how much of their time is expected and/or required.
- Encourage social connections – We all know how hard it can be to connect with people who share the same interests as you outside of work. Remember that your volunteers are looking to meet others with similar interests as theirs. Create an opportunity for volunteers to get to know one another. Learn what type of volunteer opportunities they are interested in and organize them in the same groups., Allow them to build and foster relationships over time.
- Be accessible – When volunteers show up to your organization or event, it’s best to be accessible at all times for any questions or concerns they may have. You may have prepared them ahead of time, but if it is their first time volunteering, there are likely to still be questions that need answering. If volunteers don’t approach you, it’s always a good habit to check up on them to see if everything is going well on their end, as busy as you may be. Remember, checking is caring!
- Share the cause – Let your volunteers know they are supporting the cause and making a difference. Tell them real life success stories about clients or programs, along with progress updates on achieving a goal. Also, have the volunteers share any inspiring and successful stories that your organization may have had on them and ask why they chose to support your organization. You can also use this to conversation as an opportunity to invite them into the office to learn more about how your organization functions on a day-to-day basis.
- Appreciate them! It is extremely important to tell your volunteers how much you appreciate and value their commitment to your organization. Express appreciation at every opportunity! This may be during the first interaction, during their volunteer time, at a group get together, etc. You want them to understand that they make a difference and you would like them to continue volunteering with you.
The great benefit of keeping your volunteers happy is that they will continue supporting your organization—whether with their time, money or some other resources. Remember that they support the same cause that you do every day.
Alisha Pawa is a development coordinator who is passionate about fulfilling the needs of her hospital and community in Peel Region. She is inspired everyday by the great success stories that happen in her workplace. She is a young, courageous and motivated individual who strives to see change in health care every day. She is also a fellow in AFP's Fellowship in Inclusion and Philanthropy Program