In light of National Volunteer Week that came to a close yesterday, I’d like to share a message with you from a lovely young woman I met last month when I traveled to Bali. Although the time we spent together wasn’t all that long, with the commonalities in both our approach to life and keen interest in making a difference in the world, I believe we formed a friendship that will last for years.
Lauren Moss is a kind-hearted, twenty-something, big-dreaming gal who has had vast experience in the world of volunteering both in paid roles in volunteer management and as a volunteer herself. In this post, Lauren shares with us her advice on keeping your volunteers happy:
When it comes to volunteering there are a lot of things that can go right and a lot of things that can go wrong. It is extremely important to get all the pieces of the volunteering jigsaw in place before accepting volunteers into your organisation. So, with that being said, here are five tips on how to keep your volunteers happy, master these and you will be off to a great start!
1. Be prepared for your volunteers
The worst thing is walking into an organisation as a volunteer, excited to help in whatever way you can and having no guidance. Make sure you have a great volunteer handbook explaining everything in detail that is sent out before your volunteer’s arrival, this way they will already be aware of what to expect from you and what you expect from them. Also, have a really good welcome and induction. You need to make sure your volunteers feel comfortable from the get-go and that all queries and concerns are cleared up as early as possible.
2. Tap into volunteer motives
Everyone volunteers for different reasons and it is important to know those reasons and look for ways that you can satisfy them. Find out what their skills are and why they are wanting to be part of your organisation, that way you can really get the most out of every person and that will keep both you and them very happy.
3. Communication is key!
Regular communication is motivating for volunteers and a lack of it will be sure to stop them helping out. Volunteers like to have a particular person to look to, so make sure you have a very good Volunteer Co-ordinator in place who can be there to respond to concerns immediately. I would also suggest having a volunteer feedback form so you have a record of what your volunteers think about your organisation and your volunteering program, this way you will always have ideas on how to improve.
4. Show appreciation
People who volunteer want to make a difference in the World and they want to feel that is happening when they’re volunteering for you. The best ways to do this are to make sure they know they are doing work that is vital to keeping your organisation running, giving thanks often and making them feel as valuable as your paid staff. A really good tip would be to have an event dedicated to your volunteers every year to say thank you for all their hard work!
5. Make volunteering fun!
Remember that people are giving up their time for your organisation and not getting paid for it. Of course they will want to work hard but it is also really important to make sure they really enjoy the time that they are volunteering for you. Have a variety of tasks for them to do, maybe you need them to do some office organisation but then you might need that same person (who is a great photographer) to take photos for your upcoming newsletter. By giving a mixture of tasks you will be sure to get the very best out of everyone.
Lauren has had some great experiences on both sides of the volunteering coin and her insights here could really help make a difference in your organisation if you are in the fortunate position to have the support of volunteers. Thanks so much for sharing this important message about volunteers with Fish, Lauren, we appreciate it!
See you in the Pond,
The Fish Chick
P.S. A bit more about Lauren… From managing volunteers as a Wishgranter and then as Events & Challenges Fundraiser at Make-A-Wish Foundation UK, to being fully immersed into the volunteering world herself as a teacher in Ghana and a volunteer coordinator at an orphanage in Bali. Lauren is still on her journey to find her purpose on this planet but getting closer every day, read more about her by visiting http://www.perfectlyimperfectuk.wordpress.com.