Valuing your Volunteers to be your Best Advocates and Fundraisers
Joan Hay, Volunteer Consultant
NewzViewz, Issue #100
Volunteering brings many benefits, not just to the organisation but also to the individual volunteer. Some encounter life-changing experiences in their volunteer roles, many acquire new skills and most gain a much broader perspective and find new doors open for them in their careers.
The rewards of working in the volunteer world can be immense and happy volunteers can certainly become your best advocates and fundraisers.
However, for charities and not-for-profits keeping good - really good! - volunteers can be a challenge. Volunteers need to feel valued and they need to feel like they are making a difference. Those two factors are key to retaining your volunteers.
If you were to ask many charities about how much they value their volunteers, many would say 'we can't function without them'. But do they, your volunteers, know that? Do they feel appreciated and valued?
It is impressive to provide sufficient training and support to your volunteers. Training increases volunteer motivation, well-being, job outputs, commitment, and relaibility. Skills for personal and professional growth are strengthened and leadership potential is often uncovered.
Take the time to truly appreciate the role that the volunteer plays in your organisation - while you might already know this all too often the basics can be and are forgotten! Make time to have meaningful communications with your volunteers. Ask and explore why a particular person is in a volunteer role: what do they hope to achieve from their experience? How can you help them in their role? What support do they need? What might need to change? Truly meaningful communication is the key; not just a cursory "how's it going?" but rather some dedicated and focused time to connect purposefully with your volunteers.
Volunteering is undertaken of one's own free will. Each volunteer has a choice, to work for your organisation or another cause. Recruitment and retention of volunteers relies on having the right attitude of appreciation, the right training and the right opportunities available so that your volunteer culture is an appealing one.
Your positive culture, in turn, will recruit more volunteers and will ensure that your volunteers are happy and acting as some of your best advocates and fundraisers.
Joan Hay's career spans over 30 years in the voluntary sector and she has worked with thousands of volunteers across all sectors of New Zealand society in mentoring and training roles. She understands the challenges and the rewards that volunteering brings and is an expert at recruiting, motivating, mobilising, and retaining volunteer teams. Contact Joan at firstname.lastname@example.org