It’s vital for nonprofits to have a strong group of dedicated volunteers, and retaining those volunteers isn’t easy. Organizations need to do whatever it takes to keep their volunteers happy and satisfied. But what causes them to leave? And what does it take to motivate them to stay?

Here’s what you can do

  1. Welcome Them

    There’s nothing worse than showing up for a volunteer orientation where none of the staff seems to know what is going on. 

    Be prepared for your volunteer. Greet them immediately and thank them for choosing to volunteer at your organization. Give them a brief explanation of what the day will look like and what their first step will be. Show them around and introduce them to other volunteers and staff.

  2. Provide Training

    Prepare a manual or packet of useful information that includes your organization’s history and mission statement, staff contact lists by department, logins and passwords, rules and regulations. Explain any key volunteer procedures in detail and show them how to use any office equipment or software programs.

    When you inform your new volunteers, they feel confident in their decision to donate time to your organization and excited to come back.

  3. Challenge Them

    Most volunteers enjoy occasional tasks that challenge them in some way. Be sure to keep your volunteers’ interest and engagement by giving them some stimulating or thought-provoking work from time to time.

  4. Celebrate Their Individuality

    Some volunteers want to share their knowledge and experience with your organization, whether it’s their educational background, fundraising experience or technical expertise. Being open and receptive to their backgrounds and utilizing their unique skills will make volunteers feel irreplaceable.

  5. Appreciate Their Efforts

    Another essential part of retaining volunteers recognizing and appreciating the time and effort they bring to your organization. Try to find ways to let your volunteers know that their contributions make a significant impact.

    Give award certificates to those who donated the most time each month or hold a quarterly volunteer appreciation luncheon. These may seem like small gestures, but they will make your volunteers feel good about their service and in turn, want to continue donating their time to your organization.

  6. Value Their Time

    Whenever possible, be flexible with work shift options. It’s easier for someone to commit their time if they’re able to fit their service into their daily routine. Volunteers are more likely to come back if they feel their time is valuable.

  7. Reward Them

    Since volunteers usually don’t receive compensation, your organization should consider other ways to reward them. Low or no-cost items like a reserved parking space or a private desk or workspace are simple ways you can make your volunteers feel important.

  8. Prioritize Volunteer Input

    Most volunteers want to feel like their thoughts and ideas matter. When beginning a new project and discussing scope, individual tasks, etc. ask your volunteers if they have any concerns, or thoughts about it. This is a great way to gain insights that you may not have thought of yourself, and it will show your team that you’re interested in what they have to say.

It may be difficult for nonprofit organizations to keep volunteers more than a day or two. It’s crucial to show appreciation to volunteers and help them know that they make a difference to your organization. Stay tuned for more reasons volunteers choose to stay with nonprofits.