Post by Marketing Intern Alex Basalo

This summer, I got the opportunity to volunteer with various political campaigns and organizations. It was a great opportunity to support causes that matter to me – but I’ll be honest, I didn’t meet every obligation. Volunteering is something people generally enjoy and take pride in doing, but includes no punishment or reward beyond the intrinsic ones. Volunteers are an essential part of the success of many nonprofit organizations. So how do we retain those volunteers and keep them wanting to come back?

1. Give volunteers a thorough overview or training of their tasks. Many volunteers don’t return because they were confused or intimidated by the task they volunteered for. For example, if their volunteering includes some form of data entry, make sure to give training on how to use the system. It may be simple to you, but it may be new and intimidating to your volunteers.

2. Set goals for your volunteers. People volunteer to support a cause or organization they believe in, and love to see that their work makes a difference. When you set attainable goals for volunteers, such as getting “X” many signatures, they will be able to quantify the impact that they are having on the organization. If you set a goal that must be met over several volunteer events, keep track of it in your database and alert volunteers when the goal has been reached.

3. Let them know about more volunteer opportunities. Many people only volunteer once at a major event because they are unaware of other volunteering opportunities within the organization. Get volunteers in your database and on your email list, sending them notifications of opportunities for them to help out, along with general updates on your organization. Keep your volunteers informed to keep them coming back.

4. Work with your volunteers. Taking time to work one-on-one with your volunteers lets them know the importance of the job they’re doing and that people within the organization value what they are doing. Additionally, it allows you and the volunteer to build a connection. Building a connection with your volunteers keeps them coming back not just to help the mission, but to help the staff that supports that mission.

5. Thank and acknowledge your volunteers. Your volunteers have given up their time and talent in order to help support your organization, and they deserve recognition for this. Some organizations host events for their volunteers to thank them, but your nonprofit can even do something as simple as a handwritten thank you note for each volunteer. Volunteers are more likely to return to a place they feel appreciated.