Treat Volunteers As Employees
Managers need to be aware of the risks involved with treating a volunteer in the same way as an employee.
Ensuring that volunteers have a great experience is a certain way to ensure that they keep coming back for more. Even the smallest, most menial tasks can be turned into great experiences. Thinking out of the box and having a positive attitude is a good start. Remember that great experiences have little to do with the actual task that needs to be achieved and more about other factors that you have control over.
A Lasting First Impression
If you find that volunteers are only pitching up once or twice and then disappearing, it may be because you are not creating the greatest first impression. Perhaps you even failed to make any impression whatsoever. The importance of a good first impression may have become a bit clichéd but it is important to new volunteers who need leadership in entering into an new environment where they are uncertain of what to expect.
A simple onboarding or in-depth training session can help allay their fears and let them know just what to expect. You don’t have to spend hours covering every detail and in most cases a spending just an hour or two introducing new volunteers to their environment and tasks is sufficient. Every new recruit should receive, at a minimum, the following:
– A warm welcome.
– Background information about the non-profit organisation.
– A description of the tasks they will be expected to perform and how important their time is to your organisation.
– A quick tour of their working environment, facilities and grounds.
– Introductions to employees they will be working with or can turn to for assistance.
– An informational page or booklet that explains everything in greater detail in case they forget what they have learnt.
Be A Positive Representative
If you have ever been underappreciated for going out of your way to help someone, you know how it feels. Your volunteers are going out of their way to offer their valuable time and skills. If their time and skills are not acknowledged, they will most likely feel underappreciated and devalued.
Treat your volunteers in the same way you would a valued customer. No matter how busy you and your staff members are, it only takes a moment to smile and greet your volunteers when they arrive. Let them know that you are happy to see them and thank them for helping out.
A few basic character checks can help you to become a more positive representative for your organisation. Ask yourself the following questions:
– Does your demeanor exude passion, excitement and positivity?
– Do you listen and respond with patience and respect to volunteer queries, concerns and complaints?
– Are you mindful of what your volunteers are saying or are you distracted?
– Do you genuinely care about each of your volunteers as individuals and not just the time and work that they are providing?
Create A Personal Connection
Your volunteers are not just a number or set of hands to help you achieve tasks and simplify your life. They are people with individual needs and problems. Establishing a personal connection with your volunteers let’s them know that you see them as people and can be achieved in just 3 easy steps:
– Strike up a conversation.
– Listen instead of talking.
– Ask questions that will let you get to know them better.
A personal connection is the foundation on which a relationship is built and will decide whether that relationship will last or be a short-term concern. When you relate to your volunteers, they relate to you and will begin caring about what you care about.
This is the most important step to retaining volunteers and ensuring the success of your organisation. Just a simple thank-you that comes from the heart is often most valuable to ensure that your volunteers know that they are making a difference.