Supporting your volunteers

Volunteers help your nonprofit reach its goals. It is important to provide each and every volunteer with a positive, safe and worthwhile experience that he or she can fully enjoy.

The importance of showing support
People who dedicate energy and skills to your cause can experience a number of positive side effects. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, volunteers can feel a sense of accomplishment, satisfaction and a deep connection with others. While these are fantastic advantages associated with donating time and talents to a mission, it is necessary to support these people physically and emotionally.

Some of the issues that individuals feel passionate about may pose potential dangers or emotional unrest. For example, if your nonprofit works toward ending domestic violence, volunteers who interact with victims may need to discuss their thoughts and feelings surrounding the issue to help alleviate stress and worry. It is also crucial that your nonprofit be able to help volunteers feel safe when they are working with others in a community.

Educate your volunteers on the potential risks that may arise while volunteering. If you are cleaning garbage in a park to improve the community on a warm day, emphasize the importance of staying hydrated and incorporating breaks into the schedule. Whatever situation your volunteers are exposed to, informing them of potential dangers and ways to avoid issues is crucial.

In addition, incorporating a reflective component to volunteering with your nonprofit can give individuals an opportunity to share thoughts and feelings surrounding the work you are doing as a team. If something has upset a volunteer,  encouraging everyone to share thoughts may help him or her speak up and discuss problems or issues . This can also help raise awareness and expose people to important issues that are prevalent and reasons why your nonprofit's mission is so important. For example, if your nonprofit works to end homelessness, discussing feelings of sadness or concern is key to the volunteer's experience.

World Volunteer Web also emphasized the importance of thanking participants and expressing gratitude for their service.

Knowing your volunteers
According to KnowHow NonProfit, you should cultivate relationships with your volunteers. Consider holding an orientation before embarking on a task with your team. This can help you tailor the experience to the needs of your volunteers. Ask them what they want to get out of their time with you and make sure each role closely matches what the volunteer appreciates.

Getting to know your volunteers better can also allow you to notify them when an opportunity arises that they may be interested in participating in. Volunteers will appreciate your attention to their preferences and enjoy coming back. 

Get feedback 
Those who volunteer can help improve your nonprofit's efforts to recruit people to lend a hand. Ask participants what they thought of their encounter with your cause and whether they have any recommendations or suggestions. Consider emailing a brief survey to collect data.

Volunteers help move your efforts forward. Make sure that your nonprofit supports and caters to their needs.

Back to News