Motivating your Volunteers
Motivating volunteers is a key part of your role as a volunteer coordinator/manager and it is one of the most challenging aspects of volunteer support. Likewise, it is a critical factor in keeping volunteers committed to their roles. The success of motivating volunteers comes from understanding the motivation of volunteers in the first place and managing them according to their needs.
Typical things that might motivate a volunteer are:
mutual respect and trust
pride in the team
having a say
feeling effective - able to see something through to completion, having some control
feeling unique - having particular individual strengths recognised, being given challenges which use particular strengths
If we understand what motivates both our staff and volunteers, we also need to recognise where motivation may be lagging.
Signs that your volunteers may be feeling demotivated include:
drop in performance or standard of work
lack of co-operation, seeming to disagree for the sake of it
general increase in volunteer turnover
Keeping your volunteers motivated
One of the most important aspects of maintaining motivation is to address the way in which you recognise and reward your volunteers. The best way is to encourage and foster a culture of rewarding and recognising your volunteers as early into the development of your volunteer framework as possible.
Fortunately, motivating volunteers is not that hard.
There are tools you can have at your disposal that you can use to reward and recognise your volunteers that include:
saying 'thank you'
making sure you know and use each volunteer’s name
remembering the more personal things about them such as the names of their children and pets
giving them time – not just formal support sessions
celebrating major achievements
involving them in decision making
offering relevant training and progression
making sure that you settle expenses claims quickly
providing food and/or refreshments
nominating them for awards, or having your own awards ceremony – remember volunteers’ week is the first week of June each year
making sure that the whole organisation recognises what volunteers do and make sure this is reflected in external media
mentioning their achievements at committee meetings and in reports
remembering their birthday
sending cards at Christmas and other appropriate holidays
organising social events
providing any equipment they may need to do their jobs
keeping a record of individuals achievements so you have that information on hand
using special events such as Volunteers Week to celebrate their work
saying ‘thank you’ again