Volunteer Engagement: A challenge for the new year!

It’s a new year, friends. The holiday season of 2018 has come and gone, but the sparkle of people wanting to connect and serve others still remains.

With this sense of connection comes a heightened desire for folks to give and do more for their communities and causes they love. Enter: the volunteer!

As nonprofit professionals, many of our organizations thrive on having committed, long-term volunteers to support our mission and help us accomplish our goals.  In fact, statistics show that approximately 4 out of 5 nonprofits use volunteers to help accomplish their standard day-to-day operations. Those numbers are a definitive example of how much our organizations truly need volunteers, so YNPN, here is your wake up call:

As we kick off the new year, let’s begin to shift our perspective on how we view volunteers. Let’s seize this opportunity to acknowledge their contributions and explore ways to keep them engaged long after the newness of 2019 begins to wear off.

I’d like to propose a challenge –– a twist on the traditional New Year’s resolution model –– that I’d like to call the “New Year, New V.E. (Volunteer Engagement) Plan.” This option allows each of us a chance to share volunteer engagement best practices and holds us accountable to recognize and appreciate volunteers for who they are and what they bring to our organizations.

Here are my top 5 volunteer engagement resolutions for 2019:

  1. Resolve to uncover volunteer motivations:
    • Understand the needs and desire of the volunteer in order to know what fuels them most.
  2. Resolve to give volunteers diverse, skills-based opportunities:
    • Volunteering is not necessarily one-size-fits-all. Give volunteers a chance to share their talents and gifts with the world. Find tasks that speak to their strengths and even allow them to think outside of the box for new ideas.
  3. Resolve to train and communicate expectations:
    • Proper training in any task inherently lends itself to a sense of empowerment. That sense of empowerment translates further into a sense of belonging and community with the organization. We all want to know our job and do it well, and volunteers are no exception to that concept.
  4. Resolve to acknowledge and show appreciation in a way that resonates with your volunteer:
    • Sometimes a simple thank you note is enough, but sometimes a cup of coffee and a conversation could be even better. We all love to truly feel like we are part of the organization that we give our time to, so being seen and heard is crucial as well.
  5. Resolve to be open to volunteer input and feedback:
    • Give volunteers a platform to share their thoughts on various aspects of their work and actively listen for the gems of knowledge within.

What are your volunteer engagement resolutions for 2019? If you’re up for the challenge, comment below and let’s get this conversation started! Cheers!

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  • Arlene Brown
    commented 2019-05-19 18:41:33 -0400
    Hope you all enjoyed our Chronicles of a serial volunteer! Ep.1 Volunteer Engagement discussion at the #NonprofitSTRONG summit. I appreciate all the “serial volunteers” out there and I want you all to know you are #killingit!