Nonprofit Volunteer Retention: 5 Critical Tips

May 31, 2021

Nonprofits that rely on help from volunteers to carry out its mission needs to make engagement a top priority. If an organization does not give them the attention they deserve, recruiting and retaining exceptional volunteers could be very difficult.

Here are five of the most important things that nonprofits need to do to retain their volunteers.

1. Offer Substantive Training

The most vital part of any organization’s orientation program for volunteers should address safety. Nonprofit insurance providers advise thorough training about safety policies at all levels of an organization. Also, training may have to include topics that benefit volunteers rather than only the organization.  One reason why many people seek volunteer opportunities is to develop specialized skills, so volunteer program coordinators should be prepared to offer training that helps people cultivate them.

2. Make Volunteers’ Assignments Meaningful

An organization cannot make the most of its contributions from volunteers if it entrusts them with only menial tasks. People who feel as though the work they are doing does not really matter will put forth only perfunctory efforts. Volunteers’ duties should be challenging yet not overly difficult. Managers should aim to strike a good balance that considers what work they need help with the most, volunteers’ capabilities, and individuals’ interests. Organizations should consider getting nonprofit insurance that offers coverage for volunteers so they do not have to limit the scope of volunteers’ duties for liability reasons.

3. Thank Volunteers

When people are not getting compensation for their time, they need a way to know that their efforts are noticed and appreciated. It is imperative that more than one staff member express gratitude to volunteers for their contributions regularly. Good interpersonal communication, emails, and invitations to company events are great ways that organizations can show volunteers that they are thankful for what they do.

4. Give Feedback

In addition to saying thanks, organizations should strive to commend volunteers on the quality of their work. This type of positive feedback incentivizes people to keep up their good work. Likewise, individual coaching when somebody’s work is not up to par can be enormously helpful. People will appreciate feedback even when it is negative if it includes constructive input about improving something or doing it differently.

5. Get Feedback

When organizations analyze how to retain volunteers, it is good to apply input directly from the volunteers themselves. Their insight can be useful in guiding decisions about how to shape positive volunteer experiences and identify areas needing improvement.

Good training initiatives and excellent interactions with managers can make it easier for nonprofit organizations to hang onto their best volunteers. The right level of time and attention will give volunteers some much-needed support and structure that will make them want to stick around.

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