5 Ways to Increase Volunteer Retention

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A few weeks back I shared tips on How to Attain New Volunteers and lower the barrier to entry. Now that you have secured volunteers, let’s cover some helpful ways to retain them. Volunteer retention is a muscle that needs to be developed in order to pull off a successful event. Not only can it reduce stress and planning hours leading up to the event day, but it can also improve your event year after year if you have volunteers who have volunteered with your event before. Rather than going back to the drawing board each year on how to get volunteers, just apply the below tips.


Here are 5 ways to increase your volunteer retention.

1. Keep Them Busy

Nothing is worse than taking the day off work or canceling all plans in order to volunteer for an event, only to be told you are not needed. The odds of that person being willing to make the same sacrifice next year is extremely unlikely. Notify people ahead of time if they are not going to be needed.

2. Stay Organized

Prepare a schedule of where people need to be and what they need to do. Then communicate it clearly. Waiting until the last minute when volunteers show up to figure this out will cause complications, and will set a low bar for the volunteers to follow. If you aren’t taking pride in your event and executing well, what will motivate them to? Set a high bar, and the odds will be more in your favor that your volunteers will follow your lead.

3. Stick to a Timeframe

People are busy and their time is valuable. If someone agrees to volunteer for four hours, thank them for their time and send them on their way after four hours. Do everything in your power not to keep them any longer than necessary. If they are asked or (sometimes) guilted into staying longer, you will likely lose their trust and they will be hesitant to make a commitment in the future.

4. Give Good Direction

Set your volunteers up for success. Give them the tools and information they need upfront to help make them feel like they can execute well and provide a good service. If a volunteer feels they were unable to do a good job, they will likely not return.

5. Thank Them

This is an essential step to volunteer retention. Whether it is thanking them in person, giving a gift, sending a card or email, be sure to sincerely thank them. Tell them the value they brought to the event and how much their service meant to the overall success. For example, how their role helped the event raise $100,000 or helped get 5,000 people successfully across the finish line.

If you follow these five steps, you will surely increase your volunteer retention over the course of your upcoming events. Happy volunteers equal volunteers that will come back year after year. Don’t hesitate to go the extra mile and throw a little coffee into the mix too. Caffeinated volunteers are usually happier volunteers. Also consider sending them away with some awesome event swag such as a cool t-shirt or something that will keep your event top of mind throughout the year.

Keep RedPodium in mind not to rock your volunteer registration process and show your volunteers how thought out and organized your event is with a volunteer sign up form? Allow them to select which day, time, position and even see how many available spots are remaining for each position. Now go have fun and rock your next event!

Are there tips we missed? We’d love to hear about them as we’d love to learn from you and your experience as well.