Volunteer retention blog image - Group of five volunteers, men and women, wearing shirts that say "Volunteer - Share the Good". There are boxes of pastries in the background.

Keep Your Volunteers Coming Back: 6 Proven Volunteer Retention Strategies

We’ve emphasized the importance of volunteers often in the past; that’s because volunteers are a vital component to any successful fundraising campaign. Their dedication, hard work, and passion are invaluable in helping organizations achieve their goals. In a previous post, we discussed how to recruit volunteers effectively. Now, let’s shift our focus to the next step: keeping those volunteers coming back. Volunteer retention is crucial for maintaining momentum, building a strong team, and ensuring the long-term success of your group and their fundraising efforts. In this post, we’ll explore strategies that will help you retain your volunteers by ensuring they remain engaged, motivated, and fulfilled while working with your group.

Table of Contents

6 Proven Volunteer Retention Strategies for Your Fundraising Group

Strategy #1: Take the Time to Acknowledge your Volunteers and Show Your Appreciation

Strategy for Volunteer Retention: Show Your Appreciation - a woman giving a certificate to a man in front of a room of clapping people.

Everyone likes to be recognized for their achievements, and your volunteers are no different. Taking the time to acknowledge the work your volunteers have done can promote a sense of gratitude and go a long way towards encouraging them to come back next year. There are multiple ways you can go about showing your appreciation for your volunteers, including:

  • Personalized thank-you notes: Take the time to handwrite a thank you note to each volunteer, acknowledging their specific contributions and expressing gratitude for their efforts.
  • Recognition events: Organize a special meeting or ceremony to recognize and celebrate the contributions of your volunteers. This could be an appreciation dinner, awards ceremony, or a simple thank-you mixer.
  • Social media shoutouts: Use your organization’s social media channels to highlight the work of your volunteers. Share photos, stories, and testimonials that showcase their impact. This not only shows your volunteers how much you value their work but also helps raise awareness about your group/cause.

Strategy #2: Respect Your Volunteers’ Time

Respecting your volunteers’ time is a crucial strategy when it comes to volunteer retainment. Volunteers are often juggling multiple responsibilities, and their time is very valuable to them. When volunteers feel their time is respected, they are more likely to consider supporting your organization as a good use of their time.

So, how do you show your respect for your volunteers’ time?

Tips for Your Next Fundraiser - group of people around a calendar with coffee and pastries talking about Butter Braid® Fundraising programs.

Start by being organized. Have a clear plan and schedule for all volunteer activities and provide volunteers with all the information they need in advance. At the same time, it’s important to be flexible. Understand that volunteers may have other commitments. Be willing to accommodate their schedules whenever possible. You can do this by offering a variety of roles with different time commitments, so volunteers can choose what works best for them.

Also, remember to keep up on all your communications. Be available to respond to your volunteers’ requests and questions while also keeping them informed about any changes or updates to the fundraiser. Be clear and concise to ensure that volunteers know exactly what is expected of them and when.

Strategy #3: Get to Know Your Volunteers and Create a Sense of Community

Volunteers want to build a relationship with your group; that’s why they volunteered. They also probably want to build friendships with people in their community. By creating an atmosphere that promotes the building of these relationships, you are showing your volunteers that you care about them as people…not just as someone who can further your cause. Plus, when volunteers feel connected to each other, they are more likely to stay engaged with your group.

This is probably one of the easiest volunteer retainment strategies that you can implement. You start by simply asking your volunteers about themselves. Ask about their hobbies, their families, and their life outside of your group. Give your volunteers time to get to know each other by planning little get-togethers before or after your regular meetings. Finally, consider creating a social media group just for volunteers, so they can connect with each other whenever they need.

Strategy #4: Provide Clear Communication

Strategy for Volunteer Retention: Provide Clear Communication - women talking to two other women in a conference room while writing ideas on a whiteboard. The Butter Braid® Pastry logo is in the corner.

We touched on this above, but it definitely bears repeating. Clear communication is absolutely essential if you want to keep your volunteers coming back year after year. When volunteers are unsure about their roles, responsibilities, or upcoming events, they can become frustrated and disengaged. The same is true if volunteers feel like their voices aren’t being heard. By maintaining consistent, two-way communication, you’ll help your volunteers feel informed, valued, and engaged, leading to a more positive volunteer experience and higher retention rates.

Here are some tips for ensuring clear communication with your volunteers:

  • Use multiple communication channels: Not everyone prefers the same method of communication. Use a combination of emails, phone calls, text messages, and social media to reach your volunteers.
  • Provide detailed instructions: When assigning tasks or setting up meetings, be specific about what needs to be done, how it should be done, and any deadlines that need to be met.
  • Encourage questions and feedback: Create an open environment where volunteers feel comfortable asking questions, seeking clarifications, or expressing their own thoughts and opinions.

Strategy #5: Offer Flexibility in Scheduling and Responsibilities

It’s clear that volunteers lead very busy lives. By offering flexibility, you not only accommodate the various needs and schedules of your volunteers but also create an environment that fosters loyalty and longevity. The best way to achieve this is by offering a variety of roles that your volunteers can fulfill. Include positions that cater to different skill sets, interests, and availability. This will allow you to attract and retain a diverse range of volunteers who can contribute to your fundraiser and your group in unique ways.

Different roles you could have include…

  • Promotion/marketing coordinator
  • Materials keeper
  • Kick off team member
  • Booth/table volunteer
  • Communications coordinator
  • Order form and money collection team member
  • Delivery and distribution crew

For more information about these roles, check out our Guide to Volunteer Recruitment.

Strategy #6: Seek Feedback and Act on It

Man on a laptop at a desk. On the desk are a few plates and cup of pencils and pens. The laptop screen shows an image of a Butter Braid® Pastry with a banner overtop saying "Share Your Feedback!".

When you ask for feedback from your volunteers, you are demonstrating your commitment to their experience and showing that you value their opinions and insights. There are several methods you can utilize to actively seek feedback from your volunteers. For instance, you can conduct several surveys throughout the fundraising journey. Be sure to keep them short, focused, and anonymous to encourage honest responses. You can also organize feedback sessions. These are times where volunteers can openly share their thoughts, suggestions, and concerns. These can be held in person or virtually, depending on your volunteers’ preferences or availability.

However, it’s not enough to just collect feedback; it’s equally important to act on it. When volunteers see that their feedback has been taken seriously and has resulted in tangible changes or improvements, they are more likely to feel valued. They feel their contributions were taken seriously, increasing the likelihood that they’ll volunteer again in the future.

Are You Ready to Boost Your Volunteer Retention Rates?

As we wrap up, it’s important to remember that keeping your volunteers coming back is about more than just fulfilling tasks; it’s about cultivating a community of support and appreciation. By making your volunteers feel valued, supported, engaged, and motivated, you can create a rewarding volunteer experience that makes volunteers eager to return. You’re also more likely to pick up some new ones along the way. So, start implementing these strategies today, and watch your volunteer retention rates skyrocket!

Happy Fundraising!

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