I wrote a piece recently for Huffington Post (AOL’s online journal) discussing whether we had access to enough volunteers to deliver The Big Society (http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/keith-grinsted/does-uk-have-enough-volun_b_924635.html).
Chris Pampling responded with a comment that for a recent charity event he ran he was inundated with volunteers! The fact he was running a The Great British Beer Festival would perhaps have had something to do with that! He does also say that there were tangible benefits for the volunteers.
I don’t want to let go of this.
Leaving aside the issue of tangible benefits, I have advocated for many years that charities, and voluntary groups for that matter, need to engage more with their volunteers.
It is so easy to welcome new volunteers aboard, assign them to whatever duties, shifts or rotas are deemed necessary to keep the organisation functioning, or to make an event go like clockwork, or to keep a shop fully staffed and ‘open all hours’.
But do you thank them? Do you keep them updated with how the organisation is doing, and what the organisation is doing? Some do, but the majority do not I am afraid!
And yet it does not take much to keep your volunteers enthusiastic and dedicated to your cause long term. It takes three steps…
1 Thank them for what they are doing for you!
2 Keep them informed on what the organisation is doing and what its future goals are!
3 Tell them exactly how their contribution impacts on the organisation!
These three simple steps will help to keep your volunteers happy and fulfilled.
How you do it is up to you and will depend on your resource. You could tell them in person, over the phone, send them a newsletter, organise a tea party, or a barbecue. Perhaps use social media to get the message out.
However you do it please ensure it is regular and appropriate.
But remember, there is no real alternative to the personal touch!
But what do you think?
Finally, let me know how you engage with your volunteers! Let’s hear some success stories and some ‘best practice’ we can all share.