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How to Retain New Volunteers (With Email)

With 2015 approaching fast, it’s time to start tweaking (or developing) your volunteer recruitment plan. Part of that plan should outline how you’ll keep new volunteers interested and coming back for more.

Since most volunteers register online, communicating with them via email can be a powerful way of keeping in touch.

Here are three ways to retain new volunteers with your email messaging:

1. Say Thanks and Remind Them of Their Impact

You have a very short window of opportunity to reach out to new volunteers while they’re still feeling good. One of the easiest ways to do this is with an email autoresponder.

In your email marketing software or your volunteer management software, set up an autoresponder that gets sent within 24 hours after a volunteer gives his or her time.

Thank you

This email message should thank your volunteers and remind them about the impact of volunteering. For example, Habitat for Humanity follows up with volunteers, telling them about the families that live in the homes they built, and how their lives are improved by the generosity of volunteers.

2. Share Volunteer Impact Stories

When someone volunteers for your organization, it’s a very powerful expression of commitment. In many ways giving time is a bigger expression of commitment than simply making a financial donation.

Reinforce and validate this commitment with volunteer success stories. They want to see people just like them, doing great work that they share.

Regularly share your best volunteer stories in your email messages (along with a call-to-action to sign-up for more volunteer opportunities).

3. Personalize Email Messages

If you collect additional information during your volunteer onboarding process (for example project name, hobbies, employer, etc.) consider tailoring your email messaging to include this information.

In follow-up emails, merge custom fields into the message. This allows you to make your email messaging even more relevant than just using their first name.


What about you?

Are you using email to keep volunteers coming back? If so, leave a comment. If not, try VolunteerHub and get to work.

About John Haydon

John Haydon advises nonprofits on marketing strategy and the effective use of blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and other tools. He is the author of Facebook Marketing for Dummies, a regular contributor to Social Media Examiner and the Huffington Post, and an instructor for Charityhowto. Connect with John on Twitter at @JohnHaydon.

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