Written by Fran Miele, Customer Success Manager
Volunteers are the life-blood of the charity sector. They help us deliver our services, keep things going and support the communities we serve. Without them, many organisations simply wouldn’t be able to keep their doors open.
And if volunteers are the unsung heroes of our sector, then even more heroic and unsung are the volunteer managers who coordinate their shifts, manage timetables and ensure volunteers are trained and equipped to do their roles.
Many volunteer managers will tell you that one of the toughest and most time-consuming parts of their role is attracting and retaining volunteers.
Finding volunteers to support vital roles is one challenge but the key to great volunteer management is empowering volunteers and giving them the tools to do their roles well. This creates successful and passionate communities who will spread your message far and wide.
Here are our four top tips for how to attract and retain volunteers.
Volunteers can do anything from painting a room in one of your services, to redesigning your website, to posting about your campaigns on social media.
When thinking about how to attract volunteers it’s important to think outside the box and consider what skills can really help your strategy to develop and grow, as well as how they can support you where you need it most.
Time is so precious, especially when people are juggling work with other responsibilities. If you want to retain your volunteers it’s important to show them you appreciate their commitment.
A volunteer who knows their support is appreciated will come back to your cause and talk about your non-profit to people they know! Social media posts, PR, thank you letters, or postcards are great ways to show people the meaningful impact their time has on your organisation.
You want your volunteers to feel fulfilled and have a positive experience so they continue to talk about the work you do – it’s a great opportunity to create real advocates.
With more and more people working flexibly in a post-covid world it’s important to consider how we can empower people to volunteer in a flexible way too. Not all roles require a structured in person time commitment.
Having agreed goals and outputs set to a general time scale can allow people to do the work whenever suits them best, whether that is on their lunchbreak at work, or sitting on the sofa while binging Stranger Things in the evening.
Volunteering has changed hugely over the past couple of years. Even if your organisation relies on volunteers to carry out most of your day-to-day work there is still space to think about the bigger picture of using volunteer support. How can you maximise support from people who want to help out even if they only have ten minutes?
Micro-volunteering is a great way to attract volunteers and educate them about the work you do. Ask someone to post about you and your work on their LinkedIn profile once a month or put up a poster in their work common area or favourite coffee shop. Or why not tap into the expertise of a skilled volunteer and ask their advice on a challenge you’re facing during a 20-minute brainstorming session?
Think about tapping into other networks which you may not have access to yourself and communicating the impact their support has helped your organisation to make. You’re more likely to keep them on board when they learn how amazing your mission is!
Volunteers are motivated to come and support you for a wide variety of reasons. Maybe they have a personal connection with your cause, maybe they’ve been given time by their employer to do so and want to use it give back to their local community, or maybe they simply want to build up their CV.
Whatever their motivation for joining, the key to keeping them happy and involved is communication, communication, communication.
To learn more about how Social Good Connect can help you recruit and retain employee volunteers, chat to Fran, our Customer Success Manager. Or to join the platform and start finding volunteers right away, sign up now!
Caroline has made it her life’s work to help people make more meaningful decisions to support their communities and she’s learned some golden nuggets along the way!
So, join Caroline each week for her ‘Thursday Thoughts’ on all things people, planet, philanthropy or purpose all served with sprinkle of fun (but unfortunately no prosecco) to inspire you.