Tips on How to Retain Volunteers in NGOs

Most non-governmental organisations ( NGOs) depend on volunteers to act as brand ambassadors, help in administrative processes, champion causes, among other activities. As much as volunteers are important, most NGOs still struggle with finding sustainable ways to keep the volunteers interested so that they can stay longer and finish up tasks that they had taken. The biggest headache always comes in stopping the volunteers from leaving. Some of the tips that can help in retaining volunteers include:

Show That You Value Their Time

Always bear in mind that volunteers are donating their time to you. You should show them that you value them by keeping them occupied so that they do not spend a lot of time idling and trying to figure out what to do. Before you recruit volunteers, you should make sure that you need them, and you have a plan for what they will be expected to do. The work that you give them should show that you value their time.

Give Them a Good Experience

Even if the NGO deals with serious issues, there is always a way of making volunteerism seem fun. Most people volunteer for the experience, so make it worthwhile. Get to know the volunteers, give them space to express their ideas, organise for fun activities such as travels, social bonding, and interactions with other like-minded NGOs.

Understand Their Strengths and Weaknesses

The trick for retaining volunteers is to understand where their strength lies and their greatest weaknesses. For instance, you may have a volunteer who is very good at organising stuff but is not so great with children. That volunteer is better suited to work in the office library or become an events planner. Some are hands-on and would do better with cleaning around while others do not enjoy cleaning and would rather do counselling or that kind of activity where they do not get their hands dirty. One mistake that NGOs make is to imagine that as long as one is a volunteer, they can be placed anywhere.

Give a Good First Impression

A volunteer will decide on whether they want to work with an NGO based on the first impression they get. The first impression can be both non-verbal and verbal. For instance, if they make an enquiry and they get a cold response, chances are that they will not come back. If they visit the NGO and realise that nobody is bothered to welcome them, they will get the impression that they are not wanted and may not be keen on staying. Always give a good first impression. Introduce yourself, the team, and the NGO is a comprehensive and friendly way.

Have a Volunteer Engagement Policy

Volunteers will feel protected if you show that you have an engagement policy. The policy should show them that they are valued and that they are not treated less than the people who are employed at the NGO. The policy should guide them on important issues such as sexual harassment policy, what happens if they are injured at work, who do they report to in case of emergency, and other important details. If you run an NGO, you should share with them the engagement policy as soon as they develop an interest in working with you.

Show Your Appreciation

Find a way of showing appreciation to your team of volunteers. You can do this by having a stipend, especially if you are working with young volunteers who are struggling with finances. If you do not have provision for a stipend, you can find other ways of showing appreciation such as having a volunteer recognition scheme where you publicly appreciate and honour a volunteer who went out of their way to deliver for the team.

Get Personal

Treat the volunteers as individuals and not just a group of people working for an NGO. Find out what drove them to volunteer with you. Get to know their stories if they are willing to open up. Know their dreams and passions and let them know that you are willing to fuel that passion if need be. Understand their fears and be flexible when they make mistakes. Basically, make them feel that they matter and they are an important part of the team.