Stop Sucking the Life Out of Your Volunteers

Don’t be a Volunteer Vampire! 5 Ways to Keep Your Volunteers Engaged

Laura Ducat and Kayla Taddy, volunteers at our local blood drive

Ever volunteer with an organization that literally just sucked? Perhaps it was the organization’s employee representative, a lack of communication or just overall poor organization.

But if you simply follow some guidelines to help keep your volunteers happy and interested, it will pay off for your organization for years to come!

1. Customer service is golden

Just because you are with a nonprofit, it doesn’t mean you can cut corners with customer service.

If your group is not responding to emails or can’t return a call in a timely fashion, do something about it. Volunteers who are interested and excited don’t want to have to wait two weeks to have you apologize for returning their call so late.

2. Appreciate your volunteers

Show that you really do care and value the service your volunteers are providing.

Amy Murphy at the CP Center does an amazing job with this. Our campus staff volunteered and she had special treats, a heartfelt thank you a little colorful fur balls, which she called “hugs,” that she distributed to everyone. What a special touch and memorable way to thank your volunteers.

3. Get organized

Make sure you have necessary items/people for volunteer projects.

Do not waste people’s time because you were not prepared ahead of time. It makes volunteers feel like they are wasting their time when you are unorganized.

4. Be positive

Your employees should reflect excitement and a happy disposition.

We have had several experiences in which the employee who was in charge of working with volunteers was rude, yelled at volunteers or really cranky. Each employee is a representation of your organization and can determine whether someone will volunteer with you again.

5. Recognize and inspire your volunteers

Whether it’s sharing a volunteer of the week or month on Facebook or privately recognizing a person’s contributions, a little appreciation can make someone feel valued. Think about other ideas or opportunities for your volunteer to grow in that would be personally beneficial for them as an individual.

Words of Wisdom from the executive director of the Volunteer Center of Brown County

Michael Schwartz-Oscar shares the following advice:

Volunteers are already committing time and energy to a project when they volunteer. If the project on which they are working is disorganized or poorly run, volunteers can rightfully feel resentful of the misuse of their time. Thus, volunteer organizations need to manage their volunteers well by providing them with an orientation to the nonprofit generally and the work to be accomplished specifically, making sure the volunteer feels comfortable with the task and their ability to do it, checking in with the volunteer throughout the project (including basic needs like rest, water, restrooms, etc.) and thanking the volunteer while recognizing what was accomplished. Projects organized in such a way most often lead to happy volunteers and projects that are well done.

If you can provide great customer service, be thankful, organized, positive and inspire your volunteers, you can better connect and serve them! What are some volunteering blunders you’ve experienced? Did you go back to volunteer with that organization, why or why not? Tell us in the comments section below.