8 tips to motivate volunteers

8 tips to motivate volunteers

Volunteers are often the backbone of charities and many organisations wouldn't be able to operate effectively without them.

However, maintaining volunteer motivation can be challenging at times. The fact that they give up their own free time to help a charity's cause means that what motivates them isn't always the same as someone working in a paid or full time role.

Each volunteer is an individual and what is seen as motivation for one individual may not be for another, so having a range of motivation techniques can help you identify what your volunteers respond to best. Here are 8 tips to help your charity motivate volunteers.

1. Show respect

Arguably the most important aspect of managing volunteers happy is to show them respect. They are giving up their own time to help further your charity's cause and showing respect is an integral part of building trust and empathy with them.

2. Communicate

Regular meetings are vital as they will give your volunteers a sense of direction, especially at the beginning of their service. Make sure you give volunteers a chance to have their say and provide support and supervision when it's a new area of responsibility for them.

3. Have an open door policy

Try to be accessible and approachable; volunteers should feel comfortable coming to you for advice and if they have any questions or concerns. In addition, you should attempt to "check-in" with them from time to time.

4. Find common goals

The chances are your volunteer has chosen to contribute for a number of reasons; to give something back to the community, to meet new people, or to give them something to do. Sit down with them and work out what role is going to provide the most value for their own reasons for volunteering, as well as what is going to be beneficial for your charity.

5. Recognise achievement

The effect of recognition and praise plays a huge part in keeping volunteers motivated. Although volunteers are unlikely to have joined your cause in order to receive praise, that doesn't mean to say it won't drive them to continue to produce quality results.

6. Build team spirit

Try to build a sense of community within your team; the more comfortable volunteers feel, the more likely they are to feel relaxed and, in turn, be more productive. You could, for example, host a gathering to allow volunteers to get to know each other or arrange to go for a meal every few months.

7. Encourage development and training

Almost all volunteers want to maximise the contribution they make to their charity, yet many receive limited training. Investing in personal development and training, even if it is scaled down from what employees receive, not only gives volunteers a better understanding of their role but motivates them to better themselves. Read our quick guide to training volunteers for more information.

8. Accommodate

Try to be as flexible as possible to your volunteers. Ultimately, they offering up their free time in order to help your charity, so be as accommodating as you can if they need to take time off or are unable to work their usual routine.

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