How To Add & Retain Volunteers

headshotblackMost leaders understand the importance of having a happy team of volunteers and just how incredibly valuable and instrumental volunteers are to the overall success of the company and certainly for many non-profit organizations in particular. Having successfully led volunteer teams internationally with fortune 500 and 100 companies for almost a decade I can share with you some best practices on ‘how to’ successfully work with your volunteers and or independent business owners.

Coaching and mentoring volunteers successfully truly is an art and science. The great news is, it isn’t rocket science. There are some simple yet profound practices that work well. I am sure many of which you are familiar, yet we have to become great at knowing and doing if we are to lead with excellence!

Remembering that volunteers are choosing to donate their time, gifts and talents is essential because they are doing so because they want to, not because they have to. After all, there are many organizations and worthwhile causes they could pick from to donate their valuable time and talents to.

Your objective as a leader is to grow and add more volunteers and retain your existing volunteers. Having a happy, healthy volunteer team is highly desirable and valuable and of critical importantance to the overall success and health of your company and organization.

So how do you successfully add more volunteers and retain your existing talent?

5 Simple Practices Leaders Can Implement To Add and Retain Talent

1.Understanding – Employees follow because they have to. Volunteers volunteer because they want to. Understanding the difference is important and as elementary as this may sound, unfortunately we see many companies loosing their volunteers and have a difficult time retaining the ones they do have. Often this is because the volunteers do not feel or sense appreciation for their contribution.

They are not being paid, they have no vested interest to perform other than a heartfelt desire to contribute and make a difference. They do not follow a manager’s directions because they are paid to, because their job depends on it and they have to, rather they are specifically choosing to donate their time, their talents and their services to a specific organization. Understanding the difference is key. Time is precious and volunteers could quite easily choose to donate their valuable time else where.

2. Value -Volunteers should feel appreciated, valued and respected. Remember they are serving you, your organization and their gifts, time and talents should be valued to the degree that they are given feedback on their contribution and should not ever feel like they are being taken for granted. When this happens, organizations loose volunteers because they do not feel appreciated.

3. Diversity – Keeping your volunteers engaged and enthusiastic is key. Cross training them to contribute and handle many different functions can be one way to keep them happily engaged and gives them the opportunity to thrive and shine in several different ways. It also adds value to the overall team and in the event you loose a volunteer the various different tasks, responsibilities and functions can continue to move ahead with a cross trained volunteer team.

4. Respect – Simple yet so often I hear of volunteers who leave an organization because they do not feel respected. Treat people how you would like to be treated is simple yet profound. Respecting your volunteers and indeed all your staff paid or otherwise is key. Basic manners, politeness, gratitude and overall respecting the people you work with will carry you a long way. It doesn’t mean you will always see eye to eye on things, you won’t. We can appreciate each others differences. We can respect people for their uniqueness and humanity.

5. Serve – Too often you hear of persons in authority, perhaps a manager or leader who speaks down to their staff. When people don’t feel or sense or think they are being respected or appreciated they leave. People leave people not companies. Leaders or managers who speak down to their staff are in essence abusing their power and authority. I think it is vitally important that both leader and volunteers realize that together they are both serving a grander purpose they are together on a journey serving a mission, a purpose, and vision. Leaders who lead with a attitude of servitude realize they are serving their team and communicate with respect and appreciation to their staff.

In closing, the word travels fast when volunteers don’t feel appreciated. This can be a detriment to gaining new volunteers. They key is to always respect and appreciate your volunteers, let them know how much you appreciate them, their contributions and their time and talents. Doing so, will reward you with raving fans and more volunteers in the future. Value people and the profits will come.

Janet I Mueller is the CEO of J Mueller Group. She passionately serves and helps her clients and audiences to unlock and achieve their full potential through personal development and leadership growth, helping leaders to become excellent leaders through practice and philosophy of servant leadership. Janet is an executive coach, speaker and published author. Coming soon, her new book “The Blossoming – A Leader’s Guide 10 Keys To Unlocking Your Blooming Potential”.



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