What motivates repeat volunteers?

Whether trying to increase the number of volunteers or donors, it's important for nonprofits to think long term and understand the mindset of potential followers. Every person who invests in the cause has a different reason to do so, and that reason will determine if he or she gives one gift or volunteers on a regular basis for the organization. Engagement over the long run is the main goal for most nonprofits because these people are the foundation and heart and soul of raising funds and awareness. A recent study looked at what motivates people to volunteer multiple times and opens up new ideas on how organizations can build a long-lasting relationship with these people.

The need for volunteers
85% of nonprofits rely on volunteers, but the industry is at a 10-year low for volunteer involvement. This is a major problem for organizations, and it's time to determine what makes people give their time and money to a nonprofit and how to keep them coming back.

Without volunteers, all activities, events, and projects must be planned and executed solely by the nonprofit's staff. This not only puts a heavy load on your staff members, but it's also costly for your nonprofit. You have to pay each of those staff members' salaries and maybe even over-time pay.

But many volunteers do what they do because they have a close tie to your organization and want to help. Often, their reward for their hard work is the satisfaction that they helped you complete a project or reach a fundraising goal.

What's the secret?
The study shows various reasons as to why people could be motivated to repeat volunteer with a nonprofit. The top reason is scheduling, meaning more people will give their time if it fits into their schedule accordingly.

But the second most important factor is knowing first hand the impact of the organization. This shows that while volunteering does have to coincide with people's everyday lives, people also want to make a difference in the world. In addition, volunteering contributes to professional development. If people are able to better themselves professionally, they are more likely to keep coming back to give their time to the cause.

Another large contributing factor to repeat volunteers is events where people are able to meet up with other volunteers and spend quality social time together. While many may want to better themselves professionally or make a tangible difference in the world, they also want to have fun and meet other people while doing so. If volunteers are able to develop connections with other people involved in the organization, they are going to be drawn back to the social aspect and make it a habit.

Understanding the volunteer mindset
If volunteers are able to get something out of their experience with the organization, they are likely to come back. This is not untrue for donors as well.

The thoughtful donor is someone who wants to truly invest his or her money into the organization because it means something and there's a connection to it, according to Philanthropy News Digest. The thoughtful volunteer is consciously returning because of one reason or another and benefiting the nonprofit for years to come.

The active choice to return is the ideal situation as it means a person has a strong desire and draw to the organization in which they are happy and willing to come back. If nonprofits are able to attain this mindset, they will be able to build a strong foundation of caring and dedicated volunteers.

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