Deploying the right volunteer retention strategies can keep volunteers coming back to fulfill new opportunities for your organization.

What volunteer retention strategies is your nonprofit investing in? Did you know that 1 out of 3 volunteers who commit to service in one year do not volunteer the next? According to a volunteer retention study (2006), performed by The Corporation for National and Community Service, the national retention average is about 66%.

In other words, out of the 65.4 million people that volunteered in 2005 only 44.5 million of them volunteered in 2006. These are troubling statistics for nonprofits nationwide considering that many use volunteers to fill roles organization-wide. There are also many organizations especially startup nonprofits that are solely run by volunteer support.

Nonprofits today need to do whatever they can to keep volunteers coming back. The volunteer retention strategies that your organization deploys can mean the difference between reaching your organizational goals or not.

Here are 4 volunteer retention strategies that your nonprofit can deploy today.


Volunteer Retention Strategies - Keep Track of Your Volunteer Data


Keeping track of your volunteer data is an action that your nonprofit must take. Volunteer data can provide your organization with the insights necessary to leverage and optimize decision-making capabilities. Data about your volunteer program is also an important component in measuring volunteer impact.

Did you know that only 55% of nonprofit assess volunteer impact according to a survey by Software Advice? Many organizations today still use spreadsheets as a means of capturing volunteer data. This process may be cost efficient but it lacks the data capture capabilities of web-based volunteer management tools. If your organization is part of the 45% not measuring volunteer data chances are you are missing out on opportunities.

Volunteer management software can:

  • Help you’re nonprofit organize and access volunteer data from anywhere.
  • Create an automated process for volunteer communications.
  • Create segmentation for outreach campaigns.
  • Identify patterns that can be used to optimize organization processes.

See additional strategic benefits of volunteer management software


Equip Volunteers with the Resources and Training to be Successful


Setting volunteers up for success starts with providing on-going training and resources that benefit them and their experiences. Your nonprofits volunteer retention strategies should incorporate how your organization plans to provide this type of support to volunteers.

Here are a few volunteer training and resource tips to consider:

  1. Make sure to create a realistic volunteer training budget for your organization.
  2. Make sure training appeals to all demographics and all learning styles.
  3. Incorporate engagement into your volunteer training program.

Learn a few additional easy to implement volunteer training tips


Volunteer Retention Strategies-Make a Good First Impression for Volunteers


Making a good first impression may seem like an obvious volunteer retention strategy. You would be surprised how many organizations take advantage of this easy to implement practice. Making a good first impression is a critical part of your volunteer’s experience with your nonprofit. Believe it or not but only about 7% of a first impression is based on spoken words. The remaining 93% is formed based on tone of voice and body language.

Here are a few ways to make a good first impression on volunteers:

  1. Demonstrate that your nonprofit is organized and prepared for your volunteer.
  2. Help your volunteer manage their time effectively.
  3. Provide volunteers with training that relates to their specific role.
  4. Be confident when discussing your organization mission, goals, and values with a volunteer.
  5. Offer a volunteer the guidance they need to be successful.
  6. Make your volunteers feel welcome.


Volunteer Retention Strategies - Recognize and Reward Volunteers


People naturally like to be recognized for making a commitment. Volunteers are no different. Recognizing and rewarding volunteers can be one of your nonprofit most effective volunteer retention strategies.

Here are a few ways that your nonprofit can recognize volunteers:

  1. Develop a volunteer of the month program
  2. Acknowledge volunteer milestones
  3. Send thank you cards and birthday greetings
  4. Provide volunteers with opportunities to network
  5. Offer volunteers additional opportunities for career development
  6. Add gamification to your rewards and recognition strategy



Identifying and deploying the right strategic volunteer retention strategies is a must for nonprofit organizations. Volunteers are a critical aspect of nonprofit success. Keeping track of your volunteer data, better equipping volunteers to fulfill opportunities, making a good first impression, and recognizing volunteers is a great place to start.

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