Is Your Organisation a “Best Place to Volunteer”?

best place to volunteer

You’ve probably seen a lot of companies promote their status as a “best place to work.” While the description might seem like publicity fluff, there’s actually good strategy behind it, even for social impact organisations. Can you make your organisation a “Best Place to Volunteer”?

Let’s face it, happy and engaged volunteers make for greater impact.

Happier volunteers not only perform better, but they also make the tasks more fun for everyone – because they’re having fun themselves.

If you’re going to run a volunteer program, why not run a program where people feel engaged and appreciated? Where they enjoy being with their fellow volunteers and staff, and want to give their very best? It seems like a no-brainer to me.

So, how do you make your organisation a best place to volunteer?

There are three key strategies I’ve learned from my years in the sector:

  • Show appreciation and understanding. (Duh!)
  • Communicate often and effectively.
  • Know your team.

Here’s how you live out these concepts in your volunteer program.

Show appreciation and understanding.

Most of you already know this, but it bears repeating. A lot of repeating. Show your team that you value them!

This starts with the basics like fair and equitable treatment, but it also includes being intentional – and generous – about sharing praise and recognition.

Show your team that you recognize the impact they’re making and that you understand how their work contributes to the cause. And be specific!

Then show them again. And again. Frequently! Every volunteer, every shift.

Make sure they know that you see them and that you value their contributions to your organisation’s success.

Want to create a culture of excellence? Build an environment where everyone feels like their particular experience, skill set, and point of view is an important part of what makes the mission successful.

Communicate often and effectively.

Keep your team informed. Even over-informed. It’s better to communicate too often than not often enough.

Share information about the organisation’s goals, challenges, and successes. Over time, this kind of transparency builds essential trust and credibility.

The more people understand what’s going on with the organisation, the more likely they are to be engaged and proactive – raising their hands to help meet strategic goals for the cause.

When people understand and buy into the vision, they can imagine how their specific experiences and skill sets can be part of reaching it – and then they can put those skills to work.

It’s important to also remember that communication should be a conversation – it should go both ways.

In all great environments, leadership asks for feedback from the team – that could be through volunteer engagement surveys and/or through staff asking volunteers directly about how they can be better supported.

Know your team.

Speaking of support, one of the most important things you can do as a leader is get to know your team.

Understand their goals, their aspirations, and how they want to grow within and outside the organisation.

This kind of knowledge helps you support them in reaching their full potential, which also helps your cause.

It also takes you to the next level in terms of being an organisation that people look up to and want to volunteer for.

Being known as this kind of organisation helps you with recruitment, and being this kind helps with retention.

Benefits of becoming a best place to volunteer.

When you put time, effort, and resources into making your organisation a best place to volunteer, I guessing that you’ll see improvement in many different areas. Here are just a few:

Better ideas. Happy volunteers are more creative and innovative, and they are willing to share those amazing ideas – largely because they know that you are open to them. They know the ideas will be taken seriously. They’re also willing to accept change, because they feel they have a say and a stake in the outcome.

Improved performance. A positive environment translates into smoother processes, increased reach and swifter attainment of key goals. When people feel supported as they unite behind a common cause, it’s amazing what they can achieve!

Easier Recruitment. When your organisation is known as a great place to volunteer, attracting good volunteers becomes easier. People will seek out opportunities to work for you, reducing the effort you need to put into recruitment.

In the end, making your organisation a “best place to volunteer” not only increases your volunteers’ happiness and engagement, but also supports your overall mission. By implementing the strategies I’ve mentioned here, you can create a volunteer program where everyone thrives.

And the rewards are well worth the effort!

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