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The Center for Association Resources is an association management firm focused on helping Non-Profit associations succeed in their mission.

Finding (and Keeping) Great Volunteers for Non-Profits


Another in a series of articles related to association management selected from our reading list by:
Robert O. Patterson, JD
CEO/ Principal
The Center for Association Resources, Inc.

Tips on how to recruit and retain volunteers in non-profit organizations.

Finding (and Keeping) Great Volunteers for Non-Profits

Good managers in non-profit organizations have always known that people are their greatest resource. In today’s challenging economy, non-profit groups are becoming increasingly reliant upon their volunteers to continue operations. Many tasks and roles previously filled by paid staffers are now filled by volunteers, and the new challenge facing non-profit managers and boards is how to attract and retain high-quality volunteers.

When looking for volunteers, non-profits need to be very clear about what type of person or group they are looking for, what specific task or role they would like accomplished and how unpaid workers will fit into their organizational team and objectives. It’s important to develop a clear job description for volunteers so that all parties involved understand expectations up front. It’s not uncommon for potential volunteers, especially highly skilled ones, to have a number of opportunities to choose from. Make sure your organization looks appealing and professional when soliciting help.

Think about what is going to inspire a bright, motivated individual to spend unpaid time helping your organization. Think about why someone would choose your non-profit to work with, and what benefits and experiences you can offer to a volunteer. Also, make plans for how to retain a great volunteer. Set up an ongoing volunteer recognition system to encourage people to continue with your organization. Things like thank-you cards and homemade gifts are usually appreciated, however it’s also important to take the time to get to know what’s really important to your volunteers. For example, if a person is trying to gain admission to a college, offer to write a recommendation letter for them. This type of ‘thank-you’ doesn’t cost your organization anything, but it can go a long way towards generating positive thoughts among volunteers.

Other considerations…

If you manage in a unionized organization, make sure to explore any possible concerns with using unpaid staff relative to the current union contract. Few things will drive away volunteers faster than becoming involved in labor disputes. Also, make sure that all your paid staff are clear about the need for, and roles of volunteers. Talking openly with the staff members of your non-profit will help alleviate any concerns they have about being replaced by unpaid workers. It’s important that all members of your organization, paid and unpaid, clearly understand their role within the staff team.

Volunteer, Non-Profit, Unpaid Workers, Organizations, Skilled volunteers,The Center for Association Resources

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Filed under: Association Resources, Center for Association Resources, Fund Raising, Leadership, Marketing, Strategic Planning, Strategy, The Center for Assocation Resources info, Training, , , , , ,

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