Keep the Volunteers You Have
Volunteers are our most valuable natural resource. When mining for gold you treasure the times you unearth a nugget, recognize the value of it, and are sure not to lose it. A volunteer’s experience with an organization should be a golden one. The tasks undertaken need not be glittery or glam, but the volunteer should feel valuable.
Do your organization’s volunteers feel like gold? Many volunteers report they feel like a chair warmer, a grunt, an ATM machine, a rubber band, yesterday’s news, or even invisible. Under utilizing, under valuing, or under appreciating a volunteer can lead to them speaking poorly of their volunteer experience to others, giving their notice, or abandoning their role never to return.
Oh, how unfortunate! Can this be averted? The answer is a resounding “yes”! Your organization can provide a quality volunteer experience if you make good use of their time, talent, skills, and generous spirit.
Fortify your organization’s volunteer program by developing the infrastructure necessary to support volunteers in their role. Give them a written description outlining expectations and other pertinent details of the task. People like to know what they are committing to. Volunteers want you to be prepared for their involvement.
Be professional and inclusive - welcome them with a thorough orientation. Help them to build connections with fellow volunteers and staff. After all, they might become a regular face at the organization! Maintain this relationship, because it could blossom into so much more than anticipated. Let them know when they can come back.
Make a concerted effort to match the volunteer with a task that they feel capable of doing. Is there a possible chance for personal growth? Listen to their goals and priorities, too. These people are giving you so much for free!
Express thanks for their interest in your organization. Tell them you appreciate their involvement. More importantly, be specific to state how their actions made a noticeable difference. Describe the impact of their actions. Did you invite their feedback? Relationships involve two-way communication.
Most organizations experience shortages with volunteers, so become the organization that makes them want to commit to your cause. Nurture your organization’s volunteer program to attract new volunteers but also to keep the ones you have. Volunteers are valuable like gold and they have hearts of gold.