At H.O.P.E in Community, we retain 80% of our amazing volunteers after they enter paid employment. Care and attention to this important resource are crucial to the success of any charity so I thought I would share some insights.
1. Provide Development Opportunities –
Every volunteer has their own skills but often these can be developed through opportunities within projects which improve leadership, employability, session management, financial skills, and planning. By empowering people with increased responsibility, the team as a whole is able to improve the output of the organisation.
2. Celebrate your Volunteers-
It's great to celebrate your volunteers even just by saying ‘thank you’. Our staff team are all volunteers and we express gratitude by sharing their stories, achievements, and awards. Alongside our frontline volunteers, we have a team that supports our work through marketing, fundraising, and admin.
When it comes to running a successful organisation, communication is everything. At our charity, we have regular meetings where we discuss the overall goals for the project, what is working, what isn’t and then any concerns of the group. We keep it simple in terms of how we communicate through a private group on Facebook, emails,
and phone calls. Where possible we debrief after projects to learn from each other and how we can improve next time out. Supervision of volunteers also takes place but we try and do this in a supportive and inclusive way rather than make people feel like they are being watched!
4. Safe Recruitment-
Any volunteer that wants to get involved with our work will get invited for an informal chat to make sure we are the right fit for each other. We try and be as accommodating as possible and can normally place someone within work they will enjoy. Following the completion of a DBS form, the new volunteer will shadow someone on a project before taking something on themselves once their references and DBS come back positive.
An important consideration to remember is that volunteering is not free - There are a number of things that have to take place before any work with a new volunteer begins (DBS checks, training, uniforms, etc).
When you are looking at your budget remember to factor these costs so that there is enough scope to support this person both on the project itself and in the future. Inevitably you will lose some volunteers but always make sure and maintain a good relationship when they join and when they leave!