6 ways to make volunteers happy

Try to keep volunteers happy so they keep donating their time.
Date Published
10/29/2015

Happy volunteers will continue to come back and help your organization as it grows and changes. Because volunteers are such a vital part of every nonprofit organization, it’s important to ensure each and every volunteer feels their time is well spent. Satisfaction is an important part of volunteering, but it isn’t all there is to it. The people who donate their time with your organization should actually like the work they’re tasked with and the people they work with. Here are six ways to make sure your volunteers enjoy themselves as they help your organization succeed:

1. Welcome new volunteers
When new volunteers comes around, make sure they feel welcome. Introduce them to other people who volunteer. Give them a tour of the facilities and the programs and initiatives your organization supports. Having a formal orientation that welcomes and shows volunteers what they will be doing can help ensure they get off on the right foot.

2. Be prepared for volunteers when they come
While an orientation will help volunteers feel you’re ready for them, if you don’t have anything planned after orientation, they may take it as a sign that their services aren’t needed. One way to combat this issue is to be honest and explain the nonprofit’s needs to them when they sign up. If you truly don’t need them, simply take down their information in your volunteer management software so you can contact them at a later date.

However, if you do need their help, tell them what kind of tasks you need completed and get a few shifts scheduled on the volunteer management software. Ask volunteers to help in specific, actionable ways. Tell them what you need. For example, if you require someone to help design a flyer, ask that volunteer if he or she has the skills to do so. If you need people to stuff envelopes for a direct advertising campaign, tell your volunteers. The more upfront and prepared you are, the easier it will be for volunteers to feel like they are really making a difference, which is the point of volunteering for many people, according to Percolator Consulting.

3. Respect your volunteers
According to VolunteerMatch, showing respect to your volunteers can help them feel good about their experience. Be understanding of volunteers’ situations and skills and never treat them as though they are beneath anyone else. Remember volunteers have lives outside of the organization so they may miss a day or two. Just because they aren’t there for a shift they usually cover, doesn’t mean you should treat them with any less respect.

4. Hold regular volunteer meetings
VolunteerMatch also suggested holding regular volunteer meetings. When you have these small events, try to make them fun. Have pizza, give out awards to volunteers and maybe hold a fun game or raffle off a prize. You can even think of these meetings as rallies. During meetings, try to provide direction and purpose to your volunteers and show them how their work helps the cause.

5. Provide training and the ability to learn
Offering training to your volunteers can be another way to help make them happy, according to Percolator Consulting. Many people volunteer with an organization to boost the effectiveness of their resume, and they want to learn new skills. If you’re unsure what kind of training to offer, simply ask your volunteers. They will tell you what they want to learn while working with your organization.

6. Give them something interesting to do
Nobody likes to do boring, mindless work. If possible, try to give volunteers tasks requiring some problem-solving skills and pair them up with other like-minded individuals. This will make their achievements more fun and help volunteers build a strong relationship with the organization.

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