Making the Most of Your Volunteer Relationships

Volunteers, Ah… where would NGOs be without them? They are a selfless group of people who, because they relate to and support your social mission, give their time and skill set willingly without monetary gain.

But just how do non-profits create mutually beneficial relationships with the dozens of people signed up to help out? It all begins with your volunteer form. Yes, you want to capture the basic contact information but what is key here is to really understand your potential volunteer’s skill set, profession, and their interests.

Volunteers possess some unknown skills that can be tapped into to help your organization. For instance, David may be great at filing, which is what you needed help with, but he may also be excellent at his hobby as a photographer and that’s something you wouldn’t have known. David could even be an accountant by profession who can provide some accounting advice or consultancy when required. This is the type of information that would definitely be useful in order to delegate the right tasks to the right people.

Find out why a volunteer chose to volunteer at your non-profit out of so many existing opportunities is also important to learn how this new found relationship can be beneficial to both parties involved. If someone is volunteering to boost their university applications, or gain working experience or even just to do their part to make a difference you know just how to approach each volunteer and what tasks would be more meaningful to them.

Once you know who you should go to for certain tasks, you need to make volunteers feel at home at your NGO. No, this does not mean giving them administrative access codes but finding ways to make volunteering with your NGO a welcomed decision. Provide them with a comfortable space where they can work and the tools they need, introduce them to staff as ‘part of the team’, and make them feel included by asking for their opinions where appropriate and really value their input.

It is also essential to recognize the invaluable contributions volunteers make to your NGO, no matter how big or small, can help to keep them motivated. Saying a heartfelt thank you daily to each volunteer to acknowledge their support, providing a small token of appreciation, sharing their story on your Facebook page or even hosting an event in salute of everyone involved in making your non-profit a success. This can boost motivation, confidence, and morale, who doesn’t want that?

Finally, like all good relationships, communication is key. Be sure to communicate openly and honestly with your volunteers and make sure your door is always open so they feel free to do the same. Either through group volunteer meetings or one-on-one discussions, listen to the concerns they have and recommendations they bring to the table as alternative perspectives are insightful.

As an NGO, we know you have lots of ways you work closely with your volunteers. Feel free to share stories and pictures of the hardworking volunteers you would like to acknowledge in the comment section below or on our Facebook Page.

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