Episodic volunteers – those who volunteer periodically rather than on a consistent schedule – are a wonderful part of an organization, but how do you keep episodic volunteers coming back?

Many young volunteers today are hard to pin down to a consistent schedule, or to even come back at all, so some organizations focus their retention efforts elsewhere. Many episodic volunteers, however, would like to volunteer more often, if their needs are met.

By making sure they feel connected, well-informed and valued, you can keep episodic volunteers coming back.

Develop a Sense of Connection

The more volunteers feel connected to their organization, the more likely they will show up consistently.

  • Make sure all volunteers understand the great impact they are making, no matter how infrequently they come
  • Allow ample opportunity for episodic volunteers to explore other areas and volunteer positions
  • Consider hosting fun meet-and-greet events

Keep Volunteers “In the Know”

It can be easy for episodic volunteers to get “lost” in a busy nonprofit; however, satisfaction increases significantly if you  keep episodic volunteers in the loop, and that satisfaction will help them keep coming back.

  • Keep some volunteer opportunities flexible to encourage more sign-ups
  • Resist pressuring episodic volunteers to make a long-term commitment
  • Make sure all roles – episodic and long-term – are well defined

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Ask for Feedback

Volunteers who feel like they have some say in how an organization is run report feeling more valued, and are more likely to keep volunteering for that organization.

  • Ask your episodic volunteers why they prefer occasional volunteering. Their answers can help improve volunteer retention
  • Offer just as many – if not more — feedback opportunities to your episodic volunteers as your long-term volunteers