How to retain volunteers: Make it worth their time

Post by Dani D Picture of Dani D
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If you think about it, there are few things someone can give or donate that is more valuable than their time. 

Even if a volunteer is only showing up to do the smallest of tasks, that doesn’t make their time any less valuable or worth being grateful for!

clock with fast changing hands by djim loic

You should plan ahead what you want your volunteers to do and have all the tools they will require before they arrive. Don’t waste time preparing when they arrive, be ready well before and have scheduled activities in advance, so people can plan around them.

Remember to ALWAYS have a plan B just in case something doesn’t go quite right. Mistakes are easily made, people have other commitments they sometimes can't get out of and the British weather is most definitely not reliable.

The Join In initiative, of which Davis Smith is a trustee, has identified six behavioural principles in their Making Time report that can be used to attract more volunteers.

Those are:  

  1. Growth - to provide training and the opportunity to learn new skills and feel they come away with both pride and knowledge in the work they’ve done
  2. Impact - this is to allow volunteers to interact with beneficiaries to see the difference they’re making and see why it’s worth their time
  3. Voice - a reminder to think about the way you ask people to volunteer, they will have limits to how much they can help!
  4. Experience- make finding, enrolling and participating in programmes easy and flexible for any person who wants to help can, without difficulty
  5. Recognition - the two magic words we’ve touched on before: say thank you!
  6. Social Factors - encourage socialising with other volunteers, staff and beneficiaries around to come together as a community who are all there for the same reason, no matter who they are or where they come from

These 5 simple tips should help you retain more volunteers in your organisation. 

Remember that they are people too.

People who have dedicated their time and effort into supporting your cause through nothing but goodwill!

Get to know these people, get to know why they are passionate about your charity, and make a presence online to grow your followings and supporters so that there are always new people wanting to offer their time to work with you achieving your amazing mission.

Want to know other ways to help you retain your volunteers? This is part of a series on Volunteer retention.

It’s about constructing a really worthwhile, meaningful opportunity for people where they can make a difference. Don’t do that in isolation, do that with volunteers. They can help co-produce and co-construct the experience they engage in. Make it meaningful, make it attractive, make it worthwhile.
Justin Davis Smith
Justin Davis Smith
Trustee of The Join In initiative


To read the rest of our series, you can find them here:

1 - Breaking the ice

2 - Be Human

3 - Power of the Digital Age

4 - Two Simple Words To Make All The Difference!

5 - Make it Worth Their Time

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