4 ways to avoid volunteer fatigue

Volunteers who help out often can become susceptible to fatigue.
Date Published
10/16/2015

Volunteers can become run down after providing service for a nonprofit for a long period of time. While you don’t want to drive them away, you need to ensure volunteers stay fresh so they can help you when it comes to fundraising events and other programs your nonprofit offers. Proper volunteer management will ensure your volunteers are upbeat and provide your organization with the best possible service. Here are a four ways to help make sure your volunteers don’t become fatigued:

1. Manage volunteer hours
According to Psychology Today, volunteers can fall victim to compassion fatigue. This is when people who volunteer have extremely diminished compassion for others. While this condition primarily affects doctors, coroners and other medical professionals, it is also common in volunteers working with nonprofit organizations.  When compassion fatigue sets in, people can seem cold and uninviting, which isn’t something your organization wants to exude. Also, compassion fatigue can cause depression and physical illness, both of which should be avoided at all costs.

One of the best ways to fight this type of fatigue is to ensure volunteers have a balanced life. A person who spends too much time working for your nonprofit organization can become susceptible to compassion fatigue and general burnout. Talk with your volunteers and make sure they have active, healthy lives outside of the work they do with the organization. Also, don’t over schedule volunteers to help; this can cause them to become stressed and fatigued.

2. Watch for the signs of fatigue
Identifying fatigue of all kinds is important. If a volunteer seems angry or removed, you may need to sit down and talk with him or her. The reasons for their attitude or actions may not be linked to your organization, but it’s still vital to do what you can to help them through their difficult time. Try to get to know and become involved in all of your volunteers so you can spot changes in behavior. When you do, reach out as a friend to see if you can help. According to Health Care Communication News, caring for each other is an important component to any healthy nonprofit team.

3. Utilize volunteer management software
Volunteer management software can be a useful tool for properly chronicling information and scheduling volunteers. A good volunteer management system also allows you to retain a work record of volunteers. A work record is vital to determining who is overworked and who isn’t. The easier it is to access and manage data about your volunteers, the better chance you have of helping them avoid fatigue.

4. Celebrate volunteer members’ accomplishments
Fatigue can set in if there is no progress. Volunteers work hard and they deserve recognition and celebration. Hold special volunteer appreciation events and make sure to highlight the work that they’ve done. 

Fatigue can have a negative effect on your volunteers – an important aspect of your organization. When you take steps to safeguard against it you’re going to better serve your cause.

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