Motivate your Volunteers
How to keep your volunteers coming back week after week.
- Two Good Experiences and One Not so Good.
- How to Demotivate your Volunteers
- How to Keep your Volunteers Happy
Two Good Experiences and One Not so Good.
I volunteer for a few organisations and perform different roles in each of them. For privacy reasons I would rather not say who the organisations are, suffice it to say two of them are very well known nationally whilst the third one is less well known but also provides a valuable service.
My main role is for an organisation that provides free advice for local people. The training is tremendous and I have the opportunity to work with some wonderful colleagues. The office I work in has great team spirit, we have a mixture of paid and volunteer workers, and everyone knows what they are supposed to be doing. This role has helped me to gain self confidence and I enjoy helping local members of the community to solve their problems. The work I do is unpaid but what keeps me going back week after week is the praise and support I receive from my colleagues. Sometimes the work is hectic with barely enough time to catch a breath but a word of thanks from my manager makes it all worthwhile.
The less well known organisation I work for provides a service to elderly people which enables them to keep their pets in their own homes. I am a volunteer dog walker and I know that without this service a lot of elderly owners would have to give up their beloved pets. Owners may become ill or housebound and the one thing that keeps them going is the friendship of their pets. The owners very quickly become dependent on the service and they rely on volunteers to turn up and take their dogs out. I have developed a good relationship with the head office and knowing they trust me goes a long way in keeping me motivated. I recently suffered a minor accident which prevented me taking the dogs out for a few weeks. The organisation phoned to ask if I was all right and not to worry, they would find someone else to help with the dogs until I was better. Now just imagine how the client would have felt if they had not carried out this important follow up; they would probably have felt abandoned and uncared for. But my feelings are important too - if they hadn't phoned to ask how I was getting on I might have felt unappreciated. So a thumbs up to this organisation and a lesson to be learnt for all charities - show your appreciation and your volunteers will keep coming back.
How to Demotivate your Volunteers
Now the final example is slightly less positive. I have a joined a well respected first aid organisation and have been attending their weekly meetings for a couple of months. Since week two I have been asked to bring in my ID and they will book me on a training course as soon as possible. Someone from head office says they will come down to meet me but two months later I am still waiting. Until this person comes to meet me I cannot do my induction and I cannot take part in the weekly training sessions at my local group, I just have to sit and observe. The other group members have been very welcoming and if it wasn't for them I would probably have given up by now. I want to be a productive team member but I cannot do that until I have been properly inducted. Volunteers are expected to perform duties and do a lot of travelling but any expenses they incur are not reimsbursed for several months. Perhaps it is not surprising to learn that this charity is having difficulty recruiting new members.
How to Keep your Volunteers Happy
1. Have set procedures on recruiting and inducting new volunteers.
2. Get them involved quickly while the enthusiasm is at its highest.
3. Give them a job description outlining their roles and responsibilities.
4. Phone or email the volunteers to ask how they are getting on.
5. Be as reliable as you expect your volunteers to be.
6. Repay your volunteers' out of pocket expenses as quickly as possible.
7. Make sure someone is there to greet the volunteers on their first day.
8. Say thank you.