How to Motivate Volunteers: 3 Can’t-Miss Ways

posted on February 20, 2020

One of the leading challenges for many community groups and small nonprofits, aside from fundraising ideas, is how to motivate volunteers. The reality is that people get on board and agree to give their time. And, they do it because they have the best intentions, but sometimes things get in the way. Still, many nonprofits are so small that they run with volunteers. So, they need to understand how to motivate volunteers to accomplish their missions.

That said, sometimes, groups don’t understand how to engage and motivate volunteers. As a result, you often have situations when volunteers sign-up with energy. And perhaps they get out of the gate strong, only to lose the momentum right when you need them most.

Don’t worry! Today, we have three excellent ways for your group to motivate volunteers.

Because of our work with many small groups, we’ve become pros at what works—and what doesn’t—to motivate volunteers.

1) To motivate volunteers, you have to give them social recognition.

When people give or volunteer their time to your small community group, the primary reason is that they’ve made an emotional connection. As a result, everything they do after the point they agree to become involved is rationalization. So, one of the first lessons for how to motivate volunteers is to give them a good reason for their decision. And, one of the best ways to do this is to recognize them as your champions—early and often! Social recognition brings attention not only to your community nonprofit but also to your volunteers.

There are some easy ways to give volunteers social recognition. (Check out how to excel at social media). For instance, profile them on your digital marketing and social media posts. Also, take pictures of your volunteers, share them and when you do, make it a point to tag them on the posts. People love recognition for the work they do. Finally, create volunteer events where they can meet and work with other champions. Social credit is one of the basics essential to motivate volunteers!

2) Give personal acknowledgment to your volunteers.

Again, it’s important to remember when thinking about how to motivate volunteers that they want their efforts to be recognized. Acknowledgment can be done when they have done a great job. In other words, be liberal with your gratitude and compliments. And, even when they’ve missed the opportunity to do what they promised, be grateful for their consideration. Sure, take the time to find out what may have happened. But always maintain gratitude for their intention of wanting to give of their time.

When volunteers have made an effort to support your group with their activities, the most natural thing you can do is acknowledge them often. It begins the moment they decide to volunteer. There are a few ways to motivate volunteers when they’ve joined. 1) Send them a penned note in a card in the mail. It’ll stand out. 2) Send them a personal email. 3) And, you can also give them a call and thank them or invite them to an exclusive event. By acknowledging their efforts, you’re making it a point to show that you’re aware the time they’re spending with you matters.

3) Build a Community of Volunteers to Motivate Volunteers!

People motivate other people. And, when people volunteer, one of the best ways to keep them engaged is by creating a volunteer community. Developing a motivated volunteer community takes a little consistent effort, but it pays dividends. Instead of just calling on volunteers when needed, a volunteer community provides a social network for involvement year-round. A volunteer community develops with regular updates and special events of volunteers, separate from others, including major donors.

Some ideas for creating a network to motivate volunteers can involve developing a monthly or quarterly volunteer newsletter. Also, you can create a volunteer page on your website for news, updates, and pictures. Don’t forget to do volunteer-only events just for socializing, and that doesn’t require volunteers to work (e.g., a Sunday luncheon or barbecue). Finally, you can also create a closed group on Facebook for them to engage and connect.

In sum, many organizations need volunteers to help them with their missions. It’s important to remember that nonprofits benefit from these champions. But individual volunteers can get something out of their volunteer activities. The three above mentioned strategies will go a long way toward helping you engage and retain motivated volunteers throughout your fundraising year.



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