When you hear retention in the nonprofit industry, you often think about “donor” retention. Lately, however, I’ve been thinking about how organizations can retain their best and most active volunteers and supporters.
For many organizations, volunteers are the life blood of the cause because of budget cuts, small staffs, etc. Nonprofits work hard to bring in volunteers and train them, but all too often the training and retaining ends there. As an example, I volunteered for years at an local organization working in one specific area on a weekly basis. At the beginning of 2010 they no longer needed volunteers for that task because of staff efficiencies – which was great news! But as a volunteer I was left wondering what I would do now to help this organization. I still received their monthly email about volunteer opportunities, but those were mostly geared towards their Monday- Friday opportunities that I couldn’t help with due to work. I ended up finding a new organization to volunteer with because of the perceived lack of opportunity.
Retaining Loyal Volunteers Using Your Website
I think they could have done a better job with communication, particularly online communication, to help keep me a loyal supporter. Here are 5 tips on how to use your website to retain your once loyal donors:
- Target content based on volunteer interest.
- Survey your volunteers online to see what they like and perhaps what can be improved upon regarding volunteering for your organization.
- Allow your volunteers to network with one another online to keep them engaged and facilitate a community
- Create and send a volunteer newsletter updating your potential and current volunteers on activities and the impact of their volunteering. For example, having a “Volunteer of the Month” is a great way to highlight and thank your loyal volunteers!
- Ask lapsed volunteers, either online or through email, why they haven’t volunteered. What can you as an organization do differently to reignite their interest? You won’t know unless you ask!
So tell me – do you use your website to connect with your volunteers? What are your tactics to retain your volunteers?