6 Ways to Make Volunteers Stay Long-Term

Posted on 9/3/15 9:38 AM by Marisa Samek

September jumpstarts volunteer recruitment for many organizations, clubs, schools, and teams. Although training a new volunteer might initially seem like more effort than it’s worth, his or her first week experience determines whether or not he or she will stick with you through the year. For your volunteers to commit to the growth of your organization, your volunteer manager should create a memorable first week that makes new volunteers feel included, responsible, and engaged.


Here are 6 tips to create a first week experience that will encourage new volunteers to stick around:


  1. Learn everyone’s name and introduce them to everybody

Dale Carnegie said: “A person’s name is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language.” Although it may seem obvious to volunteer managers, make sure other key people in the organization also take the time to learn the names of new volunteers. Nothing creates inclusivity more than when a higher-level executive knows the name of every new volunteer. This tactic breaks down any hierarchies or other perceived barriers making volunteers feel included and comfortable.


  1. Spend time getting your volunteers oriented and organized

A great way to accomplish this step is to have a more senior volunteer orient and organize and more junior one. This way the more experienced volunteers can offer the newer ones advice they would have liked to know when they started volunteering. What’s more, the newer volunteers can see first-hand how well long-term volunteers are treated and appreciated by everyone in the organization.


  1. Meet one-on-one

If possible, encourage your volunteer managers to meet one-on-one with every new volunteer or in small groups of 3 or 4 if necessary. Use these meetings to fully understand the motivations, interests, and strengths of your new helpers. This gesture helps your volunteers understand that, beyond their contribution to your organization, you care about their personal and professional development.  


  1. Make sure they know your policies

Ever heard that good fences make good neighbours? When people know the boundaries of a situation, they feel more at ease because they know what is expected of them.  Be thorough about the policies. This will make sure that no one oversteps any boundaries or shirks any expectations.


  1. Make sure they know the organizations mission, vision, and goals

Your volunteers double as your organization’s ambassadors. When they discuss their volunteering at home or at work, they need to be able to accurately describe your organization’s mission, vision, and goals. More importantly, by internalizing the organization’s goals, your volunteers will fully grasp the scope, meaning, and impact of their contribution.


  1. Check-in after their first week and again after their first month

Checking in early makes it clear to your volunteers that you value their wellbeing as well as their contribution. Take the time to learn about their initial experience and how you can improve it moving forward. When your volunteers feel included, engaged, and responsible, they can provide crucial feedback that can improve all aspects of your organization.

 Looking for more ways to improve your organization? You might like this post on 3 tips to add value to your assocation