If recruitment is the first important step of a volunteer program, maintain relationship can be considered as the last step that decides the success of the volunteer program and it can also bring significant rewards for your organization.
It is important to retain volunteers once recruited, keep them interesting and enthusiastic, even if they first start with a one-time volunteer activity or only short-time events. Here are several tips in building up a long-term relationship with the volunteers:
- Make a Good First Impression
A good impression is extremely important for new volunteers who are likely feeling worried about what to expect when they first arrive. Therefore, giving a warm welcome, introduction of staff member that they can go to for help, basic background information of organization then description and explanation of particular volunteer task/ event. Also, ask about their interests and motives for volunteering, try to help them in achieving their goals. Once both understand each other, it is a win-win relationship.
- Make volunteering convenient and fun
Volunteer always expect to work in a professional but nice and friendly working environment. Therefore, make no pressure and keep friendly atmosphere to volunteers satisfied and wanting to come back repeatedly. Also, offering flexibility is a way to make sure your volunteers are able to work for you, especially important if they are student or staff.
- Respect for volunteer contribution
What keeps volunteers (non-experience or expert) keep their contributions is finding themselves helpful, which brings happiness and enthusiastic to continue to give more. So the organization should give volunteers a sense of purpose while they’re working with a set expectation with clear outline goals, and make sure they have the implements and guidance to make the best. Keep them up-to-date on how they’re making a difference in your organization, and listen to their opinions and ideas, inspire them with delight spirit and keep in touch with them outside of your facilities. Showing appreciation is one of the most important parts, which will keep them motivated and satisfied with their contribution.
Ex: In programs Eco-week with the participation of volunteers, C&E always respects the right to build and contribute to the program. Young people are active supporters and make a great contribution to the success of the programs.
- Solving volunteer problems and handling complaints
Problems can arise during volunteering time is normal, however a professional organization will have multi way to avoid misleading. Volunteer may bring a complaint about a member of staff, or vice-versa, or a client may complain about a volunteer for lack of experience, volunteer may expect more remuneration than they have and so on. Once again, listen to and understand each other is very important in solving problems. Besides, good support and supervision procedures may solve problem without prolonging the difficulty.
- Give thanks
Volunteering takes a lot of commitment, so it’s essential for charitable organization leaders to regularly thank volunteers for their time. A successful certificate, a thank-you card or letter, which explains how, they have helped your organization, appreciation events, and other donor retention strategies can (and should) be applied to volunteers.
For C&E, in all programs, the recognition of the efforts of volunteers is extremely important. It’s a source of motivation to help you strive and be active in your next activities. In particular, at the end of each program, it is vital to thank the volunteers for their enthusiastic support in the event.
- Keep in touch
Your organization is a non-profit, volunteers are your precious human resources, don’t forget to keep their support for the future. Keep updates on attractive event, impressive result of the organization to your volunteer – e.g. newsletters or annual report; acknowledge their support in the annual report or in any relevant press release, online or social media post and send them a copy; send invitation past volunteers to an honors party, invite them to contribute for a new volunteer program.
Finally, Volunteers want to support your community as consider your mission worthwhile. If volunteers have a good experience of working in your organization and actually believe in what you’re doing, they can easily convince other people to support the project. Even the nature of volunteer work is come and go, they still can help in finding other supporters and honors, raise awareness for your organization.