Last post, we shared tips 1 and 2 for happy volunteers: know your volunteers’ reasons for volunteering with you, and practice good communication with your volunteers. Here are two more tips for ensuring that your volunteers are enjoying their experience at your organization that will keep them coming back for more.
- Structure your volunteer opportunities so that they offer challenging and rewarding learning experiences. Mentor your volunteers throughout their stay, and offer additional training opportunities when possible. This might include First Aid training, the chance to sit in on a class your organization offers, or connecting your volunteers to great job shadowing opportunities. Never stick your volunteer solely on envelope licking duty without giving them the chance to work on something more engaging as well (unless they really like envelope licking). As your volunteers improve in their roles, give them a promotion by adding new challenges and responsibilities, and always make sure they have a chance to see the outcome of their efforts.
- Be appreciative. I have left the best tip for last! Some ideas for showing your volunteers your appreciation:
- Say ‘thank you’ (honestly, it’s that simple)!
- Hold a volunteer recognition event like a wrap-up party or an appreciation breakfast
- Provide food and refreshments for your volunteers when they work a long shift
- Show increasing trust in your volunteers (ex. give more senior volunteers a key to the office or more unsupervised opportunities)
- Provide perks and incentives after a volunteer has worked with you for a certain amount of time (ex. provide a reference letter for volunteers after 6 months, or take your volunteer out for lunch on their one-year anniversary).
Even providing flexibility is a great way to show that you appreciate their work and that you respect them as a person and a colleague. Like, when a volunteer has a sick kid at home or is planning a trip. Allowing them that leeway will ensure they know you appreciate their contribution.
Check out the Learning Resource Guides in Volunteer Alberta’s Resource Centre (VARC) for more ideas and information on volunteer recruitment, retention, and recognition.
Please leave your own volunteer management tips in the comment section!
Sam Kriviak, Program Coordinator