Agencies are often so focused on their mission that they tend to frame their volunteer opportunities from a “benefit to the community” perspective. However, to attract and retain great volunteers, an agency must frame opportunities from a “benefit to the volunteer” perspective. From fundraising and marketing to long-term opportunities, make it about the volunteer to get the most engagement.
Modern volunteers, especially millennials, often volunteer for reasons that also benefit them, not just to be purely altruistic, and it’s important for agencies to keep this in mind when designing new volunteer opportunities. For example, someone volunteering at a community garden is doing so because they want to learn how to garden, not just because they want to support the community garden’s mission.
Failing to make it about the volunteer – especially with young or new volunteers – can lead to poor engagement and retention. By focusing more on the volunteer experience, agencies can increase that volunteer retention and attract more volunteers.
Make it about the Volunteer Experience
Focus a little more on the volunteer experience, and a little less on your agency’s mission. A great example is an Indiana animal shelter’s offer to have Pokemon Go players walk shelter dogs while they play the game. The program may not be from a mission-support perspective (like an adoption event would have), but it was hugely successful and led to a surge in both new volunteers and dog adoptions.
By focusing more on the volunteer experience, you can get your new volunteers – and therefore the wider community — more excited about getting involved. And that, in turn, creates maximum impact for your agency’s mission.
Photo by KCPT