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STIMULATING ORGANIZATIONAL SUCCESS
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Organizational Growth STIMULATING ORGANIZATIONAL SUCCESS (S.O.S.) ::
Motivating Volunteers

The key factors that motivate volunteers usually include personal growth, connecting with others who have similar interests and goals, and feeling useful or like one is making a difference. Opportunity for each volunteer to experience all of these aspects is key to retaining them. Provide proper training and give volunteers the chance to get to know other volunteers and staff. Make sure volunteers actually have enough work and responsibilities to keep them engaged, yet balance that with making sure they aren't given tasks for which they are not yet properly trained.

Create a simple form for new volunteers.

  • Gather their contact information.
  • Ask what days/times are best for them to participate.
  • Determine how many hours per month they might be interested in volunteering.
  • List the different volunteer needs/functions and ask them to rate which they prefer.
  • Offer a checklist to determine:
    • the skills they have to offer and
    • the skills and expertise they would like to gain.
Follow up annually (or at the end of a project) with a simple evaluation form so that volunteers can give feedback and the organization can learn how it might make a volunteer's experience more fulfilling.

Recognition is the most valuable way to retain volunteers. Verbal and written "thank you's" for their time is a great way to show appreciation. Thank them every time they volunteer. If handwritten "thank you's" are too expensive or time consuming, at least send an e-mail thank you. Some organizations offer recognition to volunteers when they reach a certain number of volunteer hours. The recognition can just be as simple as getting their name listed in a program. Other groups have an annual party or celebration to thank volunteers.

Are there training opportunities for volunteers? Volunteer orientations and proper supervision (meaning someone who can show each volunteer what their task is and be available if the volunteer has questions or needs more assistance), are really helpful in making sure volunteers are fulfilled. Too often, if volunteers aren't given proper training, they feel frustrated.

Are volunteers given enough responsibility or too much? Often, volunteers are only given "grunt work" or not enough work and eventually will feel like they aren't making a difference if they're not given anything of significance to do. On the other hand, some organizations expect their volunteers to do everything, and these volunteers feel frustrated because they feel they're not meeting the expectations of the organization. So it is important that volunteers be given enough responsibility to make them feel useful, and to be very clear about expectations. The organization should have realistic expectations based on what the volunteer can do. The best ways to gauge this are through volunteer evaluations (see above).

What kinds of opportunities are there for volunteers to move up in the organization? Someone may start off helping with mailings; if they're interested in doing more, let them coordinate a mailing party, and then eventually, give them a chance to be on the PR/marketing committee, etc. There may be some volunteers who are happier just doing the same thing all the time, and it's great to let them do that. But allow for those who are happiest when given an opportunity to continue develope their skills, or who want to grow in their involvement and responsibility with the organization. Allow volunteers to get what they need from the organization.

Having a volunteer coordinator to keep track of the volunteers, to recruit more volunteers, to give volunteer orientations, to keep all volunteer information on file, to be the person that volunteers know they can go to, really helps keep the volunteers organized. The great thing about having a coordinator is that every volunteer has different expectations and needs, and having one person who can gather that information and find the perfect job for each volunteer is critical in having a strong volunteer force.

TIPS FOR GREAT GRANTWRITING
YOUR ORGANIZATION AND THE IRS
GET THE WORD OUT ABOUT YOUR ARTS EVENTS
AMERICANS FOR THE ARTS BOOKSTORE
ARTISTS: EMPLOYEE OR CONTRACTOR?
MUST READS FOR ARTS MANAGERS - PART 1
MUST READS FOR ARTS MANAGERS - PART 2
ORGANIZATIONAL MAGNETISM: PART ONE
ORGANIZATIONAL MAGNETISM: PART TWO
ORGANIZATIONAL MAGNETISM: PART THREE
OVERCOMING BARRIERS TO BOARD DIVERSITY
TIPS FROM THE FIELD
MORE TIPS FROM THE FIELD
PLANNING EFFECTIVE MEETINGS
BUILDING EFFECTIVE BOARDS
THE PRESS KIT
MOTIVATING VOLUNTEERS
DELIVERING OUTSTANDING CUSTOMER SERVICE
Shown: Seattle Youth Symphony. Photo: Colleen Boyce.
Seattle Youth Symphony.
Photo: Colleen Boyce.
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