Advertisement

Good360 leaderboard ad
Close Search
 
MEDIA, JOBS & RESOURCES for the COMMON GOOD
Hot Topic  |  Careers

When Passion is Payment


3 April 2017 at 8:00 am
Stefan Delatovic
If you’re engaging your volunteers well, they’re not only a valuable workforce, but an invaluable channel, writes Think HQ account director Stefan Delatovic who offers five tips for retaining volunteers.


Stefan Delatovic | 3 April 2017 at 8:00 am


0 Comments


 Print
When Passion is Payment
3 April 2017 at 8:00 am

If you’re engaging your volunteers well, they’re not only a valuable workforce, but an invaluable channel, writes Think HQ account director Stefan Delatovic who offers five tips for retaining volunteers.

It’s hard to overestimate the value of volunteers.

There’s the financial benefit of people gifting their time, of course, but there’s also the halo effect of their presence – if volunteers are signing up with you, then it’s a clear indication your cause is cutting through.

If you’re engaging your volunteers well, they’re not only a valuable workforce, but an invaluable channel. You’ll rarely find a better brand evangelist than a deeply engaged volunteer.

And they’re out there. Formal volunteering brought an estimated $25.4 billion of value to the national economy in 2010, according to data sourced by Volunteering Australia.

That same data tells us that the median volunteer is giving 1.1 hour of their time each week, and they’re signing up mainly out of a desire to help others or their community.

Like all of us, though, they’re time-poor. The most common reason people give for not volunteering is a simple one – they don’t have time.

So it’s important to honour the gift of valuable time that volunteers are giving, and communicating well is a powerful way of doing that.

Here are some tips:

  1. Know why they’re there

Volunteers have signed up to your mission and they want to help, so let them. In workforces where there’s a mix of paid and unpaid staff, it’s easy to feel queasy about asking people to perform tasks, but don’t smother messages with apologies.

Volunteers won’t pack up and leave because they’re busy, as long as their tasks are rewarding.

Remember, volunteers run on passion, and while passion is a potent fuel, it is volatile, so you need to ensure volunteers feel valued if you want to retain them, which brings us to our next point.

  1. Liaise, don’t task

When working with volunteers to achieve a goal, open the conversation with “how can we help each other today?”

Unlike staff, volunteers fit their role in the spaces around their everyday lives, which could include full time work and family commitments. So, try to avoid setting a mandatory meeting for everyone at 11am on Tuesday, rather find ways to distribute information in a format where people can digest it when they get a spare moment.

Set a tone of partnership.

  1. Allow them to own the brand

Volunteers are evangelists for their organisation, because they transparently, authentically care about what they’re doing – it’s why they’re there, right?

The way to turn volunteers into evangelists is to allow them to own your messages and mission. Set up structures and channels that demonstrate that the cause is owned by them, and paid staff are there to help them get the work done. Make information easy to find and simple to share.

Importantly, communicate early in the decision making process to allow volunteers to shape decisions, or at least get comfortable with them before decisions get made.

Social media, such as a closed Facebook group, is a great platform for this, as it allows volunteers to engage in a dialogue and share their ideas. If your volunteers are spread out or rarely get together, it’s also a great way to share stories.

  1. Find out who they are

Volunteers are a disparate bunch, and each member of your volunteer cohort comes with their own background, profession and priorities they’re juggling around working with you.

Such diversity can make planning a challenge, but the unifying thread of this audience is, again, passion. Try to use multiple channels to get your message out and keep communications centred on the mission – always include the “why” when discussing “what”.

The other side of this is that volunteers will likely have a bundle of skills unrelated to their volunteerism, so find ways of getting to know them and it will open up new opportunities.

  1. Get busy winning

With the above in mind, you can ensure volunteers are retained, engaged and valued for the gift they’re giving your cause. Volunteers are a powerful force and, when respected, they’ll smash through walls for you.

About the author: Before joining Think HQ as an account director, Stefan Delatovic was manager of media and communications at Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES), an organisation that depends on the efforts of 5,000 volunteers.


Stefan Delatovic  |  @ProBonoNews

Stefan Delatovic is an account director at Think HQ.

PB Careers
Get your biweekly dose of news, opinion and analysis to keep you up to date with what’s happening and why it matters for you, sent every Tuesday and Thursday morning.

Got a story to share?

Got a news tip or article idea for Pro Bono News? Or perhaps you would like to write an article and join a growing community of sector leaders sharing their thoughts and analysis with Pro Bono News readers? Get in touch at news@probonoaustralia.com.au or download our contributor guidelines.

Get more stories like this

FREE SOCIAL
SECTOR NEWS

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

Turning women into queens

Maggie Coggan

Monday, 25th May 2020 at 8:20 am

Here’s how you can keep connected during coronavirus

Maggie Coggan

Friday, 22nd May 2020 at 2:53 pm

Volunteering and COVID-19

Adrienne Picone

Wednesday, 20th May 2020 at 6:16 pm

Breaking down barriers and kicking goals

Maggie Coggan

Monday, 18th May 2020 at 8:24 am

Advertisement

Good360 leaderboard ad
pba inverse logo
Subscribe Twitter Facebook
×

We need your help.

Our COVID-19 coverage has driven our website traffic up by 250%. But we are seeing a huge fall in advertising, which is how we fund our free news service. This is hard for us to ask knowing how tough times are for everyone. But now is the time to show us you value our work.

 Make a contribution 

You have Successfully Subscribed!