Make the best use of your amazing volunteers—and retain them for years—with these three tips to use when training your volunteers.
Volunteers are an invaluable and indispensable resource to your non-profit organization. They believe in your organization’s cause, and they’re committed to turning the mission into a reality. It’s important to get behind the eyes of your volunteers to truly understand how to keep them from walking out the door. Have you ever signed up to volunteer for a non-profit and felt directionless because it wasn’t clear what to do or how to do it?
That type of experience certainly doesn’t inspire people to sign up again the next year. Don’t let a volunteer’s passion for your cause wither due to a lack of organization or direction.
Here are some ways to embrace your volunteers’ unique talents and use them to your organization’s benefit—and make the experience so positive, they will come back again and again to lend a hand.
Survey volunteers for interests and strengths. Volunteers are at their most effective when they’re enjoying what they do. Survey volunteers signing up to help with your event to find out:
- Their “day” job: What professional experience does this volunteer have that your organization can utilize? Consider hobbies and interests outside of professional work that volunteers can offer.
- Social competency: Does your volunteer prefer working with others and interacting with people, or working alone behind the scenes? Put chatty volunteers in places where they’ll interact with guests, resolve problems, or assist with mobile bidding.
- Technological competency: Is your volunteer computer savvy? Bring in your tech-heads to help with setup, registration, and check-out. Put your analog-preferring volunteers in the ballroom spotting the live auction, or helping organize items for pickup.
Provide volunteers with an ongoing, consistent training program that reinforces your organization’s cause. Break up the training program into bite-sized pieces to make it more digestible for volunteers. Keep morale high by avoiding long, grueling days of training, and consider half-hour or hour-long, activity-focused sessions.
Also consider staggering your training over a period of time to help volunteers retain the information you give them—and repeat the really important information at multiple sessions to make sure it sticks.
Remember: come back to your mission often during training to drum up excitement for your cause and inspire volunteers to be the best they can be.
Remind volunteers how much you appreciate them. Everybody wants their hard work to be acknowledged. Have a Volunteer Appreciation Day. Thank your volunteers on stage. Tell them often what their dedication means to your organization, and the great things you’re all accomplishing together!