If you’ve volunteered for anything in your life, you know that the boring grunt work can be rewarding but not necessarily engaging or exciting.
However, the point of volunteering isn’t to have a blast. It’s to give back to your community or a specific cause without asking for anything in return. On the flipside, coming from an organizational standpoint, you’ve got to give your volunteers a reason to come back again and again.
Sure you may have a steady stream of court-ordered helpers and retirees looking for a way to give back, but there will also be individuals who seek you out — looking for an opportunity that aligns with their values. You’ve got to give each of those audiences a real reason to care about you and to champion the organization on your behalf. With that in mind, here are a few key things you can do to turn your volunteers into advocates and keep them on your side for the long-haul:
You obviously can’t pay your volunteers, but offering a small token of gratitude is enough to keep people showing up. Something as small as a T-shirt or any kind of branded merchandise can make a volunteer grateful they came. Investing in a small run of these items is a smart move so that you’ve always got something on-hand to give. You can also offer free food and beverages at the event. Who doesn’t want that?
Giving volunteers a shoutout every now and then can make them feel valued and a part of the team. We all want to know that our work means something, and often times, all it takes is a pat on the back or a callout in the newsletter to make us feel like we matter. Recognition goes a long way in making your people feel included and integrated in the brand.
Sometimes it’s nice to get your volunteers together and throw a party in their honor. Obviously they all have something in common, which is their mission to serve your cause, so getting them together might help them see the bigger picture. And frankly, these can be excellent networking opportunities for you and them to really get to know one another and share ideas.
Injecting your volunteer-based programs with some volunteer-centric focus will help turn your volunteers into loyal advocates. In turn, you’ll show the public that you care about the people who care about you. It’s an extremely powerful tool for nonprofit branding.