What steps is your nonprofit taking to retain volunteers in 2021? Here are 5 strategies to incorporate into your retention plan this year.
Deploying strategies to retain volunteers in 2021 is crucial to the success of your nonprofit. If your nonprofit is like many organizations in 2021, you rely heavily on volunteers to reach your mission and goals. According to the Corporation for National & Community Service, the average volunteer retention rate in 2019 was 65%. In other words, approximately one out of three volunteers will stop providing service to your organization. Even amid COVID-19, people are actively searching for opportunities to volunteer their time. In fact, according to findings by the United Nations, the pandemic is driving a global surge in volunteerism.
The steps that your nonprofit takes to retain volunteers can have a big impact on the value that your volunteer program is driving for your organization. Studies have shown that the average volunteer commits 52 hours a year to volunteerism, and each hour is worth around $28.54. Based on this data, losing just one volunteer could result in a loss of over $1200 in value annually. How many volunteers is your organization losing each year? What steps is your nonprofit taking to combat this loss?
If your organization is unsure where to start or is looking for additional ways to retain more volunteers in 2021, here are 5 thoughts to consider.
Provide volunteers with challenging Opportunity
According to a study, 36% of people stop participating in an opportunity because the work is not challenging enough for them. Is your nonprofit providing volunteers with interesting and challenging opportunities to fulfill? Do volunteers feel as though their contributions matter to the overall success of your organization? Creating challenging opportunities for volunteers does not mean that you have to make simplistic tasks complicated. You can, however, consider providing volunteers with opportunities for advancement and growth within your organization.
For example, do you have a volunteer that has filled the same role for a long time? Have you ever considered allowing that volunteer to train others on how to efficiently complete that specific task? Have you asked for that volunteer’s feedback on how the role could be improved or how duties could be optimized? Making small changes to your process, leveraging the input of volunteers, and creating ongoing value can be enough to make supporters feel as though your nonprofit is challenging them and their contribution to the greater good.
Be flexible and considerate of your supporter’s schedule
In another recent blog post, we talked about the amount of free time the average person has access too. According to our research, the average person has 4 hours of free time available per day or 28 hours per week. Is your nonprofit considering your volunteer’s schedule when creating opportunities for involvement? Does your organization offer micro-opportunities or remote opportunities that would better fit into the schedule of your supporters?
Creating a flexible volunteer program can help you retain more volunteers in 2021 and help volunteers feel comfortable post-pandemic. One of the best ways to gain insights into the availability of your volunteers is by asking them. This may seem like a basic concept, but you would be surprised how many nonprofits forgo capturing this data as part of their onboarding process. Think about the trends you would be able to capture and leverage just by asking volunteers what time works best for them to give.
Another tip is to make the volunteer registration process as streamlined as possible for supporters. A streamlined process will demonstrate to volunteers that your organization values their time.
One of the best ways to build trust with volunteers is through effective communication. Your organization should use communication as a tool to build and strengthen relationships. Your nonprofit can communicate opportunities for involvement, data about your program’s impact, and thank volunteers personally for their participation. Communication should be frequent and across multiple mediums such as email, text, social media, and in-person. Find out what technologies your volunteers use and be present there. According to a communication study, performed by Willis Towers Watson, organizations with highly effective communication strategies are 3-5 times more likely to outperform their peers. How is your nonprofit using communication to retain volunteers in 2021?
Entice volunteers to commit more of their precious time
As mentioned earlier in this post, being flexible is key, and so is getting volunteers as involved as possible. Studies have shown a direct correlation between retention and the number of hours a volunteer provides an organization each year. According to a study, performed by the Corporation for National & Community Service, volunteers who serve 50 hours per year or more are 40% more likely to give one year to the next than those who serve 1-14 hours per year. The best way to entice volunteers is by creating a personalized, flexible, and engaging experience. How your organization accomplishes this task is up to you.
Here is a guide on how to engage volunteers that may help!
Provide volunteers with valuable skills
One of the best ways to provide value to volunteers, in exchange for their commitment to your organization, is in the form of skill development. Learning new skills can be just as valuable to supporters as financial gains. Is your nonprofit teaching volunteers skills that they can use outside of volunteerism? How is your organization promoting skill development within your network of volunteers?
The secret to volunteer retention in 2021 is a combination of strategies. Your nonprofit needs to provide volunteers with challenging and flexible opportunities, communicate effectively, entice volunteers to give more and provide incentives for providing time. If your organization can create a volunteer program that is built on trust and engagement, there is no reason volunteers won’t want to come back.
Want to learn 7 tips for reviewing your volunteer program in 2020? Download our guide.