You’ve got some great people volunteering for you. They are dedicated, they believe in your cause and they are choosing to spend their time to help make your dream a reality. How do you inspire them to come back year after year? Here are some tips for creating an experience everyone will enjoy.
Smile. It feels good to know you are making a difference in people’s lives and most people, volunteers included, are drawn to the things they feel good about. Let your smile show them what a difference they are making. Everyone will feel more relaxed, your volunteers will have more fun and so will you.
Train them well. Make sure all your volunteers know what to expect and what is expected of them. But rather than a grueling, all-day training, consider breaking it up into shorter segments. Repeat important information so it becomes second nature. Always connect the training to your mission, to the reason why your volunteers signed up in the first place. Help them experience the power of what you are accomplishing together.
Capitalize on their strengths. Talk to your volunteers and identify their talents and gifts. What professional skills do they have? What are their hobbies? What do they love doing? Play to their strengths—they’ll be happier and so will your guests.
- Put chatty volunteers out on the floor where their people skills can shine. They can interact with guests, resolve issues and help with mobile bidding.
- Those with technical or computer expertise would be well suited to help with setup, registration and checkout.
- The quiet, organizing types would be good at spotting the live auction or organizing items for pickup.
Fuel them. There’s nothing quite like food to show your volunteers you care about them, especially for long events. Have refreshments ready for your volunteers when they check in. Provide food and beverages during the event and particularly for clean up afterwards.
Appreciate them. Above all, let your volunteers know how much they mean to you and to your organization. Take every opportunity to thank them privately and publicly. You could host a Volunteer Appreciation Day and thank your volunteers onstage. Even a heartfelt “thank you” in the moment means a lot to someone who’s taking the time to help you.
When your volunteers are happy and feel good about what they are doing, they’ll help make sure your guests have a good time. Together all of you can make great things happen.
For more on volunteers, see this article on Training Volunteers.
About the Author: Jill Boyer, Senior Marketing Manager, Greater Giving. Greater Giving provides nonprofits and schools with technology and credit card processing services to make all their fundraising efforts more successful.