Volunteers Are a Precious Nonprofit Resource
Volunteers are a tremendous resource for charitable nonprofits. Without volunteers, nonprofits would struggle to provide programs, community services and more. Volunteerism in the United States peaked between 2003 and 2005, when approximately 29% of all Americans reported their volunteerism.
A large number of charities are operated exclusively by volunteers. Many of these individuals are significant donors. Managing volunteers is like managing paid staff. Volunteers expect to be treated with respect, have significant training and orientation, and made part of the nonprofit team. A volunteer hour is valued at $29.95. The worth of the volunteer, as we know, is priceless.
Fewer volunteers are working harder for nonprofits. Over a decade, the volunteer rate has dropped from 29% to 25% in 2015. However, the future looks bright with increased volunteerism. Volunteerism is a way to strengthen communities and build relationships. If volunteers want to engage with nonprofits, there are current opportunities available.
Millennials, the largest generation alive today, understands and is responding to increased volunteerism for nonprofits, according to The Points of Life Foundation’s “Civic Life Today” study (opens as a pdf). Gen Z is the generation most likely to get involved with volunteerism in the future.
It is understood that volunteers are needed by nonprofits to reach its mission and goals. In 2019, according to the AmeriCorps, the average volunteer retention rate was 65%. The pandemic drove a global surge in volunteerism. Here are a few ways to retain your volunteers.
Make the Experience Worth Volunteers’ Time
If you want to retain more volunteers for your organization, provide them with challenging opportunities, as well as valuable skills to develop their personal interests. Develop a combination of strategies to understand what motivates their interest in your organization.
In addition, be flexible and considerate of your volunteer’s personal free time schedule and needs. Entice volunteers to commit more of their precious time by adjusting your schedule based upon their availability.
Value Volunteers and Seek Their Feedback
Give your volunteers a warm welcome, communicate regularly and clearly, ask questions to make improvements, and thank your volunteers.
Constantly ask your volunteers for feedback on their experiences in order to always seek ways to improve your volunteer program. Ask for their advice and guidance, but also make them feel valued and appreciated. Let them know they are needed and continually play an integral part of the nonprofit’s operation.
Relate to Volunteers’ Motives
Understand and tap into nonprofit volunteer motives by explaining your expectations to your volunteers at the beginning of their tenure, make sure volunteers do not feel burdened, always make their volunteering experience fun, and love those individuals that freely give their time, talent and treasure.
Understand, in today’s nonprofit world, do whatever you can to keep your staff, board and volunteers from leaving for perceived greener pastures. The cost of their departure is too high. It is always better to retain these individuals than to start anew with recruitment. Remember, volunteers are a precious nonprofit resource.
Duke Haddad, Ed.D., CFRE, is currently associate director of development, director of capital campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis. He also serves as president of Duke Haddad and Associates LLC and is a freelance instructor for Nonprofit Web Advisor.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO since 2008.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis on education administration plus a dissertation on donor characteristics. He received a master’s degree from Marshall University with an emphasis on public administration plus a thesis on annual fund analysis. He secured a bachelor’s degree (cum laude) with an emphasis on marketing/management. He has done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
Duke has received the Fundraising Executive of the Year Award, from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Indiana Chapter. He also was given the Outstanding West Virginian Award, Kentucky Colonel Award and Sagamore of the Wabash Award from the governors of West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana, respectively, for his many career contributions in the field of philanthropy. He has maintained a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) designation for three decades.