According to research, 49% of new leaders under-perform. Leadership is a key component of an effective volunteer program. Here are strategic ways to lead volunteers towards mission attainment.

Volunteers offer their time and energy to partake in the accomplishment of an organization’s mission and goals. Volunteers have a desire to make a personal impact. How is your organization leading volunteers? Do you understand why volunteers are providing your organization with their precious time? The first step in being a leader is understanding motivations for giving. Most volunteers provide their time to reach personal goals and/or for altruism.

Here are the most common reasons people volunteer according to a study by Volunteer Toronto.

  • 93% To make a contribution to the community
  • 77% To use their skills and experiences
  • 59% They have been personally affected by cause/mandate
  • 50% To explore their own strengths
  • 48% To network or meet new people
  • 47% Their friends/family volunteer
  • 23% To improve and increase job opportunities
  • 22% To fulfill religious obligations or beliefs

Regardless of the motive of volunteers, your nonprofit should utilize their assistance and commitment to your cause to the highest level possible.

It is not uncommon for volunteers to become uninspired or consumed by other issues in their life that reduces their ability to give. It is up to your organization to engage volunteers enough to retain them. Losing volunteers is the same as losing quantifiable value. Effective leadership can help your organization keep volunteers engaged and motivate them to continue to give.

Here are tips on how you can motivate and lead volunteers.

Form Relationships

Forming a healthy relationship in any business or organization is a key and catalyst to achieve success. Sometimes organizations place more priority on getting the work done than on knowing their volunteers. Does this apply to your nonprofit?

Creating a personal connection with volunteers builds strong relationships and makes the realization of set goals quicker.

Ensure That They Are Committed

Some organizations out of a dire need of help recruit both committed and less committed volunteers. Leaders need to be sure of the commitment of their volunteers. They should determine their stance on the assigned responsibilities and roles and verify that the right volunteer is in each role.

It is never too late to train volunteers on the responsibility associated with a specific role and optimize their performance.

Your organization should invest in on-going trying that keeps volunteers engaged and reinstill mission.

Restate the Objectives and Roles

The absence of clarity can cause volunteers to become unsuccessful in their roles. It is the job of leadership to keep them on track. In times of change, volunteers’ morale may be at the ebb and they may be less inspired to match expectations.  They may lose touch with the expectation of the organization and potentially push your nonprofit away from its mission.

In order for volunteers to be effective in carrying out their duties and responsibilities, you should remind them about the function of their assigned role and the organization’s objectives frequently.

Volunteers are likely to work harder when they know clearly the role they have to play.

Reward & Recognize

Volunteers, despite not expecting any payment, will be motivated to contribute more if their efforts are appreciated. Recognition can help them feel like an integral part and key players in the growth of the organization. It gives them a sense of accomplishment. How is your nonprofit rewarding volunteers?

Reward by lavishing them with praise for each of their contributions or better still, elevate them to higher positions in the organization based on performance.

Here are a few additional ways to reward and recognize your volunteers

Lead Volunteers by Communicating

Communication in an organization is highly vital. Effective communication should begin with the first interaction with a supporter. Volunteers will get on board if they are kept abreast of recent happenings within your organization.

Ensure that you communicate clearly your expectations to them. Keep every channel of communication open in order to get them involved.

Goals will be obtained maximally if communication in an organization is observed.

Repose Faith in Them

The best will be brought out of volunteers if you can show them that you trust them. Let them know how invaluable they are.

Show them that you trust them to help you take the organization to whatever height you dream of.

Give Volunteers a Listening Ear

Volunteers have reasons why they have formed a relationship with you. In order to build a formidable force with your volunteers, you should listen to what matters to them.

By getting to know what tickles their fancy, you will be able to blend their underlying values with the objectives of your organization.

You will know what motivates them and how you can harness this to reach the goals of the nonprofit.

Invest in Your Volunteer Program

Investing in a volunteer program to streamline process, improve communication, and enhance experience is another great way to lead volunteers.

According to research, 40% of nonprofit organizations invest less than $5000 a year into their volunteer program (that is less than $500 month). This figure includes marketing, recognition, office supplies, training, professional development…and more).

Organizations need to recognize that the value of volunteerism continues to rise and investing in tools to push their program forward is a good investment.

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