How to retain great volunteers

Nonprofits thrive off of the help and support of volunteers. They are honorary employees of charitable institutions and without them, the organizations may not have a chance to achieve their short- or long-term goals. Online and offline growth, including the amount of donors who fill out online donation forms, happens because of the work of volunteers. If nonprofits aren't doing everything they can to attract and retain great volunteers, they may not see as much success or growth.

It's time for charitable organizations to step up and make the most of their volunteers' experiences. This means investing in them as equal and important parts of the fundraising and development process. Keeping the right people around as opposed to having a high turnover will make for a smoother growth and transition process. Here are five simple ways to attract and retain the right volunteers for a nonprofit organization:

1. Gather community members
Entrepreneur says to start local and see who in the immediate community would be willing to lend a hand. Developing an intimate group of local volunteers is a great start for the nonprofit so it can build a strong foundation, start advertising for new workers on social media and extend outreach efforts to other cities, college campuses and elsewhere.

2. Provide assistance
Not everyone is going to have ample experience working for a nonprofit - that doesn't mean they aren't worth the time investment. Nonprofit leaders should work side by side with volunteers until they understand their routine and how the organization works. Teaching them the ropes will empower them and allow them to develop as a true volunteer.

3. Listen to ideas
As people start working with a nonprofit and time goes on, they will naturally have suggestions and changes that might be beneficial. Just because they are not being paid doesn't mean that their opinions don't matter. Show them the organization cares and listen to their questions, concerns or ideas.

4. Express appreciation
Constantly asking them to do more work is not the best way to show appreciation. It is OK to allow them to take on more responsibilities, but they need to see that their work isn't for naught. Take them out to dinner, give them small presents or throw a party just for them to show how much they mean to the organization.

5. Encourage leadership
Trust volunteers to grow themselves and become leaders in their area of work. Allowing them to learn and grow into supervisors will ensure a long-term commitment and a person who knows the ropes well.

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