Breakdown barriers using readily available resources to recruit, grow and retain volunteers.
Let’s face it, no one likes navigating traffic. Even if you have an exciting destination, the thought of battling the gridlock can prevent you from getting on the road to begin with. It’s time to get your construction hat on and start removing obstacles so that your potential volunteers can get back in the driver’s seat.
By taking advantage of new and existing technology, you can clear the way for volunteers. Better tools can allow your volunteers to engage in work that creates impact and builds deeper emotional connections with your organization.
Before we detour into technology strategy, it’s important to identify the types of roadblocks that are preventing volunteers from engaging:
It’s no revelation that for anyone trying to make a commitment, personal responsibilities can bring the possibility of volunteering to a standstill. Volunteers not only have family or career obligations, but often times conflicts with other volunteer opportunities. If you have a willing, rock star volunteer, it’s likely that they are being pulled in multiple directions by different organizations.
Considering their already full plates, it only makes sense that if they are going to donate their valuable time, volunteers want to understand what’s in it for them and how it aligns with their personal goals. You want to make sure your organization is poised to answer these questions and ready to provide volunteer opportunities that fit for their lifestyle.
Hearing, “Nobody asked me!” can put a pit in the stomach of anyone coordinating volunteers. Especially when you feel that you are already exhausting your outreach efforts. You aren’t the only one vying for your volunteer’s attention. It can be critical to take a step back and consider your communication approach. Are you reaching out to people specifically to volunteer? Or just putting out a general communication looking for a fish to bite? It’s easy for people to scroll past a generic call for volunteers, but hard to ignore a personalized ask.
Along with a sincere ask for help, the information regarding your available opportunities should be clear and honest. This is especially important when it comes to the needs and requirements of the job itself. You don’t want to put your volunteers in the position of committing to something if they don’t know what they’re in for. Prioritizing honest communication at the forefront can lead to a trusting relationship in the future.
It can feel daunting to think about the amount of time needed to train volunteers and get them up to speed. Investing the time and energy into training can go a long way with volunteers. The fear of not having the skills needed for the job can be a barrier for many potential volunteers. Volunteers should know you have their back and are ready to arm them with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful.
Take the time to explain assigned tasks and responsibilities or connect them with mentors who can help. Clear expectations from the beginning will help guide your volunteer and give you clarity when evaluating their work. Offering ample training and support can make their experience a lot more positive.