Volunteers play a large role in the success of most nonprofits in the U.S. Some volunteers are very involved, while others help out a few hours each month. Regardless, volunteer labor provided to a nonprofit or fundraiser is a necessary and valuable service. To that end, here’s some information on ways to keep volunteers motivated and productive.
Be Inclusive – It’s easy for staff members and senior volunteers to forget what it’s like to be the “new guy” around the office. However, this is no excuse for letting new volunteers get lost in the shuffle. Help newbies feel like part of the group by pairing each one with a senior volunteer or a “lunch buddy.” Holding volunteer gatherings like meetings, softball games and socials will also help reinforce the community aspect of the group.
Know Their Motivation – Not everyone becomes a volunteer for the same reasons. As such, each volunteer is seeking something different from your organization. If a young man who works in a warehouse wants to help out at the local food bank using his warehouse skills, and the food bank instead asks him to sit at the front desk in the main office, he probably won’t stick around for long. On the other hand, a cheerful retiree who is looking for interaction with the public would be thrilled for this slot!
Set Goals – Volunteer staff can be very useful for an organization, but they usually need more preparation and supervision compared to paid staff. When setting a task for a volunteer, provide obvious, realistic goals so the person understands the job ahead and doesn’t feel overwhelmed. Tasks that are too long or unrealistic lead to frustration and volunteer burn out.
Be Flexible – Remember, these are volunteers, not staff members. If you want the free labor, you’ll have to allow some folks to work evenings or weekends, not just weekdays. Also, you can’t get upset with volunteers that call in sick. A high percentage of volunteers are retirees, so there will be some sick days.
Be Appreciative – We choose to volunteer for our own personal reasons. However, everyone likes to be appreciated and thanked publicly. If you want to keep your volunteers around, recognize them for their hard work and appreciate them publicly.
Share Successes – Individuals choose to volunteer for a number of reasons, but they picked your organization because they support your mission. Share information with your volunteers on the organization’s successes, such as reaching a fundraising goal in a brick campaign or achieving a milestone number of persons served. Either way, your volunteers shouldn’t have to read this in the paper – they should hear it from you!
If you have any questions about ways to motivate your volunteers, please contact us today. At Bricks R Us, we offer fundraising consulting services along with our engraved brick fundraisers!