Volunteers are the lifeblood of every association. Recruiting volunteers is one thing – but retaining those volunteers is a challenge we all face. To retain volunteers, an organization needs to be aware of what motivates and leads each one to feel satisfied with the time he or she donates.
Nothing motivates like recognition. Showing appreciation of the time and effort volunteers bring to your organization is a powerful tool to help keep your volunteers happy. The association I work with makes a point of recognizing stand-out volunteers each month by featuring a Volunteer of the Month article in the bi-monthly event e-blast. The immediate past president has the responsibility to write an article once a month highlighting a volunteer’s contributions to the association and giving some personal background about the volunteer. The article is also posted on Facebook with a photo where it often is “liked” by other association members. This puts the volunteer in the limelight so he/she can be recognized by his/her peers.
Another way my association recognizes volunteers is through an award at the annual convention. The Community Involvement Award honors a volunteer who has gone above and beyond to give to the community. An award plaque is given at an awards luncheon, along with other association awards. Again, the volunteer can shine and be noticed by his/her peers.
Recognition can be something as simple as taking photos of your volunteers at events and sharing them in your association newsletter, or as elaborate as a recognition event. A neighborhood association I once worked for hosted a volunteer recognition event with a smorgasbord of food donated by local businesses. This was the business community’s way of saying “thank you” to neighborhood volunteers.
You probably have other recognition strategies – discounts for volunteers, personal “thank-yous,” or snacks during meetings. Whatever your strategy, don’t forget the power of recognition. It can make all the difference in whether your volunteers decide to stay or go.