Dedicated volunteers are the lifeblood of your organization, but too often our actions as leaders say the opposite. It’s easy to take volunteers for granted and neglect their needs. We all have excuses as to why this happens, but unfortunately those excuses can lead to serious problems within your organization: a lack of volunteers. Below are five keys to inspiring your volunteers and keeping them invested in your organization.
Recognize the value of your volunteers.
Volunteers are often viewed as just another tool to be used, but their value to your organization should not be overlooked. They have families, hobbies and passions, just like you, that they bring to the table and can benefit your organization if acknowledged and valued. By getting to know your volunteers, you will gain an appreciation for who they are and they will in turn recognize that you value them. When your volunteers know they are valued, they are more likely to stick with your organization.
Communicate why the organization exists.
Volunteers need to understand why they should invest their time in your organization. This starts by communicating a clear vision of what you are trying to accomplish through the organization to your volunteers. People want to be a part of something that is bigger than themselves, so make sure they know what that something is.
Uncover why the volunteer is there.
Ask your volunteers why they commit time to your organization. The more information you know about why they are helping, the better you can place them in a position that fits their needs and personalities. This also helps demonstrate that you value their time and service. As a leader, it should be your goal to serve your volunteers and help them reach their full potential within your organization.
Quantify the volunteers’ impact.
After establishing why your volunteers are a part of your organization, it's important to quantify their actual impact. It’s common for volunteers to question the purpose of their tasks and wonder if what they’re doing is making a difference. Tell volunteers how their tasks impact the organization and why they are essential to its success. Volunteers will be inspired by the fact that they can make a difference through their service within your organization.
Acknowledge their contribution.
The final key to inspiring your volunteers is to acknowledge their hard work. Offering a “Thanks for the help today” isn’t enough. Show your appreciation by giving personalized compliments, writing thank you notes or throwing a free appreciation dinner for all your volunteers.
Inspiring your volunteers comes down to understanding their needs and fulfilling them. Get to know your volunteers and invest in their lives in order to keep them around for good.