Home » Cultivating Happy Volunteers: 4 Keys to Success
Volunteers are an integral part of the nonprofit world. In fact, over 40% of charities rely heavily or entirely on their volunteers to maintain operations. This fact has grown since the pandemic. According to LinkedIn, the number of volunteer opportunities listed per month has doubled since 2017.
As a volunteer manager, you want happy volunteers! Why? Because happy volunteers show up time and again to serve their communities!
It’s important that you make sure every volunteer feels empowered by their choice to give their valuable time to your cause. Thus, forward-thinking volunteer managers need to make an effort to cultivate a happy volunteer workforce.
We’re sharing these 4 keys for bolstering happiness and fostering better relationships with your volunteers, so you can adjust your volunteer engagement strategy in a meaningful way:
Let’s dive into each:
When people know that you’re considering their comfort, they tend to be happier to participate in your volunteer activities. Even if the task feels uncomfortable, developing a sense of trust and teamwork can help inspire volunteers.
Check-in with volunteers regularly about these specific areas:
The volunteer activity is what you’re asking your volunteers to actually do! Assess your volunteers’ comfort with your activities by asking yourself (and your team) these questions:
You can also use background checks to help ensure all staff, community members, and volunteers are qualified to participate in your activities.
You can promote volunteer happiness and comfort by offering appropriate volunteer training. In fact, organizations that prioritize volunteer training are more likely to see greater volunteer retention and engagement (prepared volunteers make for happy volunteers!).
Make sure to complete volunteer training for each volunteer. Prior to training, let volunteers know what to expect. Is the training online? What language will your organization use to convey key information?
As you think through training, keep the following questions in mind:
Don’t overlook the physical comfort of your volunteers while they’re on the job. You’ll want to consider questions like these, and communicate the conditions of the activity with your volunteers before they arrive:
Like you, volunteers lead busy lives; avoid asking too much from your volunteers. Before assigning a volunteer role, estimate and communicate the time commitment. Are you asking for 10 hours per week of their time? 3 hours per month? Provide a variety of options so that you’re casting the widest net possible when recruiting volunteers for your program.
Here are some important considerations for volunteer happiness and satisfaction when it comes to making your program accessible and convenient:
Technology can be used to make the volunteer experience more convenient for volunteers. Some volunteer management systems, for example, will automatically log hours when volunteers arrive on site. This removes the burden on the volunteer to log their own hours, and can instead allow them to focus on their service. Keep these questions in mind as you think of ways to incorporate technology to make the volunteer experience more convenient:
Transportation is a barrier to access for many folks. As you plan your volunteer opportunities, keep the following considerations top of mind:
A lack of consistent, transparent communication is one of the first reasons that volunteers become dissatisfied. Do not overlook your volunteers. A forgotten volunteer is a lost volunteer–and perhaps a lost donor as well.
Rather, create a regular volunteer outreach program. Every interaction with your volunteers is a chance to build trust through communication and honesty.
Are you looking for the best ways to stay in touch with your volunteers? Try these suggestions:
And, if you’re already using these communication channels, focus on continuing to create highly relevant and engaging content with consistency for happier volunteers!
Volunteer recognition and appreciation is an important component of cultivating happy volunteers. Even your most consistent and dedicated supporters want to be acknowledged for their achievements and the impact they’re making in the community. Here are some tried and true volunteer appreciation strategies to recognize your volunteers in a meaningful way:
Leveraging the power of volunteer management software ensures you have the information you need to make your volunteers feel seen and heard. There are many platforms that can help you communicate your appreciation, and award certificates or badges based on volunteer milestones and achievements. Check out our list of the top 25 tools for nonprofits and keep your eyes open for tools that support volunteer engagement!
No matter how large or small your nonprofit, you have the opportunity to foster happiness and satisfaction among your volunteers. By keeping some of these strategies for success in mind, you’ll drive deeper volunteer retention, keeping volunteers engaged and happy for years to come.
Author: Annelise Ferry
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