If you want volunteers to continue to provide their time towards your cause, inspire them to be a part of your organizations mission. Here are 4 ways to build a lifelong connection with your volunteers.
Think back to the first time you volunteered to help a nonprofit. Were you inspired to make a difference? Did you feel as though you were a part of a team working towards a greater cause? Did you feel as though you had an opportunity to learn new skills?
Given their invaluable contributions, volunteers are truly the heartbeat of a nonprofit organization. They add compassion, commitment, love, and most importantly their time to a common cause that makes a substantial difference within the community. So, as a nonprofit leader, how do you inspire your volunteers to be a part of your mission? How are you retaining your volunteers and are your providing them with value? Here are a few best practices that will help motivate and engage your volunteers.
It’s easy to underestimate the power of a simple “thank you.” Expressing gratitude towards your volunteers on a regular basis can have a tremendous impact. People thrive on appreciation and validation, and by fostering a culture of gratitude within your team, you can inspire volunteers to dedicate even more of their time. Gratitude has the ability to ignite a passionate commitment to your cause. In fact, according to a new study, conducted by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, expressing gratitude not only improves one-on-one relationships but could bring entire groups together. Consider implementing one or all of the following approaches to ensure your volunteers feel truly valued.
- Use a thank you message when they sign-up to volunteer.
- Send thank you emails after they have attended an event.
- Create a special event exclusively for volunteers.
- Send hand written thank you letters occasionally.
- Greet your volunteers with a friendly demeanor and a smile.
- Recommend opportunities that match interests.
- Thank volunteers by providing them with value.
- Showcase volunteer success stories.
- Let volunteers know impact metrics.
Communication is Key
Understanding the motivations of your staff and volunteers is crucial. What inspires them to join your events? What drives their commitment to your organization? Gaining insights into their thoughts and reasons for involvement will provide you with valuable information for recruiting new volunteers. Additionally, it will enable you to develop unique ways to express appreciation to your existing volunteers. By discovering what keeps them engaged with your organization, you can strengthen your relationships with them. Engage in meaningful conversations with your volunteers, delving into their personal lives to establish a genuine connection. When asking questions, consider their motivations for dedicating their time. These conversations can foster a deep bond with the volunteers. Here are some questions to consider:
- Do they have a special connection with your cause?
- Do they enjoy specific events?
- Do specific times work best for them?
- Are they looking to build specific skills?
- What are their interests?
- Can they share a fond memory of a time they volunteered with your organization?
Include Cultivation in Your Nonprofit Mission
Do you have a vision of your perfect volunteer? If so, why not cultivate that within the volunteers you already have? Helping to build confidence in your volunteers is a great way to make them feel valued. By acquiring new skills and giving them opportunities to use these newly acquired skills, you are building confidence within them.
We all know what it feels like to start something new. It can be scary and intimidating. However, if they are feeling personal growth, they will want to continue to come back and give more of their time.
Sometimes it is hard to see the big picture when you are only working at a few events a year. Being authentic and allowing the volunteers to see the progress of the team is extremely valuable. Showing them what your organization was able to accomplish with their help encourages them to continue to volunteer.
They want to see results from these efforts just as much as you do. Help them see that they are making a difference and the value they add to your nonprofit mission. By offering transparency, you create a vision for the team of volunteers. They understand where you are trying to go (your goal) and how they can help you get there (your plan).
Building a strong environment for your team and organization will encourage volunteers to give their time. Gratitude, communication, cultivation, and encouragement are just a few ways to inspire your volunteers. Think outside the box to create your own ways to show them appreciation. Use this week as a platform to inspire your volunteers and to catapult your nonprofit mission to the next level.
VolunteerHub Can Help
Are you looking for a better way to recruit, engage, and manage your volunteers? VolunteerHub is a feature-rich, easy-to-use volunteer management software created to help organizations get the most value from their volunteer program by eliminating constraints.