Many nonprofit organizations and charities rely on volunteers in varying degrees to help provide services. They could not function without this source of support to conduct programs, raise funds or serve clients. While this sector may face challenges to remain competitive and effective, attracting and retaining volunteers has agencies scrambling to adapt to the new realities. Volunteers’ motivations and expectations have become more individualistic and ad-hoc and are less driven by long-term commitments. Moreover, contemporary volunteers increasingly expect their motivations and expectations to be met and are willing to leave the organization if they do not perceive a good fit due to a mismatch between volunteer motives and volunteer tasks.
The median age of volunteers is also well over 55. About 6.1 per cent of Canadians aged 25-54 volunteered regularly in 2010, down from 8.3 per cent in 1992, according to Statistics Canada. This is a troublesome statistic as today's active volunteers are aging and their potential replacements are dwindling in number.
Working effectively with volunteers takes some skills and practice. Once volunteers have been recruited, the non-profit or charity can improve the experience that a volunteer has with the organization. On VolunteerMatch.org, Marylin Ryder, gives five tips to building that volunteer loyalty. Marylin Ryder is a professional blogger and a freelance writer. Currently, she is engaged in educational projects in Seoul and volunteers at Edubirdie.com, helping students in essay editing.
The following are a summary of her five tips on how to build volunteer loyalty:
1. Get Personal – Many volunteers want to feel that you care about them. Ask about their interest and why they are volunteers. For example, a student may be volunteering to gain experience or to meet individuals. Try to help them in achieving their goals and see how loyal they become.
2. Tell Volunteers Your Expectations – To keep volunteers satisfied and motivated, spend time to clearly explain what is expected from them and why their work matters.
3. Make Volunteering Convenient and Fun – Volunteers often spend several hours per week providing support. To make them come back week after week, make sure that the work is “going on in a pleasant and friendly atmosphere.”
4. Let Your Volunteers Speaks – Volunteers have opinions and aspirations when it comes to volunteering. Create a forum where individuals can share their experiences or expectations. Use the forum to discuss topics that are exciting to volunteers and share information and images of previous volunteering projects.
5. Show Appreciation – Remember to show volunteers that they are appreciated. Something like a simple thank you shows that you appreciate their making time to volunteer. Or, consider hosting a party.
Remember that volunteers are there because they believe in your cause; they have the ability to give you honest feedback; and, they can also help you with other donors and to build support. If volunteers have a good experience and believe in your cause, they can convince others to volunteer or support your cause.