Volunteer Retention

Give them a reason to stay

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Let’s assume that you ran a killer volunteer recruitment campaign, possibly for a specific cause. You called, and they came. Then the event or whatever you recruited for is done, “one for the books” as they say. And now: what?

Even if you don’t recruit for the same recurring event, there is no reason for you to start over every time you need volunteers.

A better solution is to actively work on retaining them. The reasons are simple: if they’ve volunteered for/with you before,

  • they are more likely to do it again (provided they had a positive experience).
  • you have formed a relationship.

This means:

  • They don’t need to be trained in the basic aspects of your work.
  • There is no need to vet this person over and over.
  • There is no need to figure out from scratch what they would like to do or are good at.
  • They are more likely to recommend you to others.

Retaining volunteers echoes the thinking behind how to recruit them, and it should be built in from the start.

Stay in Touch

It is important that the communication with your volunteers doesn’t fizzle out. If you have a general email news list, get their consent to be on it. If you send out regular printed newsletters, include them in this. Even better, if you can find a way to tailor what you send to your volunteers, rather than keeping it general, what they are sent will be more meaningful.

At a minimum, however, you should always include volunteer opportunities in your communications, if possible.

Keep your Address Book Up-to-Date

There is nothing more embarrassing than to reach out to somebody who has expressly asked you not to. Likewise, it makes little sense to carry dead wood around, i.e. emails that no longer work and bounce back. Therefore, be sure to keep your email lists and so forth up to date. This will ensure that you are not wasting your and others’ time with communications.

Ask Them

Always keep in mind that volunteers stay with you because you provide them with a rewarding experience. If they feel their time is wasted, they will simply move on. To prevent this from happening, in regular intervals or after every major event at the very least, you should send your volunteers a short survey. This survey can then be used to not only evaluate your success with respect to the event itself, but also gauge how well your volunteers were performing, and more importantly, give you feedback from the front lines regarding opportunities for improvement.