It only takes a tiny spark to ignite a person’s passion for volunteering.
However, once it’s ignited, that feeling will fuel a volunteer to sign up for extra shifts, donate, attend more events, and become your organization’s biggest advocate.
How do you fuel your volunteers’ fire? Make sure they are happy, interested, engaged, busy, informed and appreciated volunteers. Follow these eight steps to light that spark and produce happy and fulfilled volunteers.
Ask The Right Questions. If you ask the right questions when designing your volunteer event, you won’t need a crystal ball to see who will volunteer at your event. In fact, the more pre-planning you do, the more likely you will recruit the volunteer that is interested in your project and shares your organization’s ideals. To figure out the best volunteer for your event, start by asking:
- What will volunteers be doing? How many jobs/projects will they do throughout the day?
- Who is your ideal volunteer (think in terms of location, age, occupation)?
- Will you need 20 or 200 volunteers to complete your project?
- When will the event take place? Will it be one day or a week? A few hours or all day? Weekend morning or weeknight?
- Where will it be held? Indoors or outdoors? Rain or shine?
- Are the volunteers meeting at the site or will transportation be provided?
An Idle Volunteer is a One-time Volunteer. A volunteer that feels bored, unappreciated, or worse of all, that their time was wasted, will be a one-time volunteer. Make sure you have enough projects to keep your volunteers busy for the day. Bonus points if you make a plan B (too many volunteers and need to add work) or plan C (only a few show up and you need to cut jobs).
Keep Them Informed. Before the first volunteer even walks through the door, they should know the game plan for the day. Create an event page and poster that contains the date, time, location (with directions or a map link), job descriptions, dress code, rsvp info, contact information, and a rain plan. No one wants to be that person that arrives in the pouring rain to a canceled event or wearing the wrong clothes for the job.
A Little Extra Goes a Long Way. Give your volunteers a memorable day with lots of opportunities to engage further with fellow volunteers, your mission, and cause. Keep these activities simple with an info table, free coffee, breakfast, or lunch, competitions, giveaways, or demo about your mission.
Say Thank You… A lot. Whether it’s at the event, in a follow-up email, facebook post, or message is written in the sky (or all of the above), make sure volunteers understand how thankful your organization is for their time.
Make Sure Your Volunteers’ Voices are Heard. Give volunteers plenty of opportunities to give feedback on your program, whether that’s through a post-event survey or follow-up call. Volunteer’s opinions will bring up problems you didn’t know you had, offer valuable insight on your event, and testimonials are a great recruitment tool for future projects.
Follow up within 24 Hours of the Event. While the volunteers still have the post-event warm and fuzzies, send a recap email and a social media post immediately following the event. The email should thank volunteers, recap the day’s accomplishments, include event photos and end with a call to action — make a donation, follow on social media, visit the website or sign up for another event.
Stay in Touch All Year Round. Keep your organization on your volunteers’ minds all year long by fostering a long-lasting symbiotic relationship. Invite them to volunteer appreciation and your organization’s events. Add them to your email newsletters and mailings (with their permission, of course). Give them discounts and free perks. Send them a card on their birthday or when they reach a volunteering milestone.
Volunteers that are engaged, informed, appreciated, and busy volunteer will be happy volunteers. What are some ways you keep your volunteers happy?