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Attracting and Motivating Volunteers

A strong body of volunteers can make the difference between success and failure. Learn how to recruit and retain volunteers who are committed to your organization’s mission.

My name is Jeff Franco, and this is Attracting and Motivating Volunteers.

In this lesson, we will discuss how to motivate volunteers to join. We’ll explore how to create a fulfilling and positive volunteer experience; then how to collect feedback so you can make improvements and see what you’re doing well; and finally, how to keep the volunteers engaged after they’ve been with your organization.

Why do our organizations need volunteers? Volunteers help our organizations make an even bigger impact. Many of our institutions simply wouldn’t be able to survive without the support that volunteers provide.

In order to attract people who are willing to invest their time, we have to first learn what inspires them to serve with us. What are they hoping to accomplish? Once we know their expectations, we must live up to them or risk losing our volunteers.

How to attract volunteers. I believe it’s in our DNA to want to help others. Some people come forward right away, ready to give. For others, it takes a bit more coaxing. It is important to create a volunteer experience that is meaningful. And demonstrating the impact a volunteer can make is the first step in attracting quality people. Work hard to create a positive environment so that people want to join the team!

Once you know what kind of participation you’re able to provide, begin seeking out volunteers. What avenues of communication does your institution have at its disposal? Can you use social media, and seek out volunteers on Twitter or Facebook? You can send out a monthly newsletter in which you can advertise for volunteers. Or you can create fliers and hang them on community boards in your neighborhood. Reach out for people who have volunteered with your organization in the past. Make sure your advertising conveys accurately the volunteer experience, and that it highlights the aspects you know will be attractive to people.

How to keep volunteers motivated. It is important to make sure your volunteers’ time is well spent while they are working at your organization. Remember that they may not be as experienced as your full- or part-time staff members. For that reason, make sure to be available to answer their questions, provide support, extra training, and encouragement. Take time to teach them about the impact your organization is making, so they feel a connection to the work they are doing. Providing a positive experience for your volunteers and keeping them engaged during their service is key to making sure they come back and work with you again in the future.

How to keep your volunteers engaged. After the volunteers’ time is over, talk with them about what they liked, and what they didn’t like. Collect their feedback by giving them a survey. Work hard to learn from the negative comments so that in the future, the volunteer experience can continue to improve. Once a person has volunteered with your organization, work hard to keep them engaged. Keep them on your mailing list. Invite them to volunteer in the future. Encourage them to invite their friends to the next events.

Volunteers are an invaluable resource. Working hard to attract volunteers, and motivating them to want to serve with your organization, can help it grow and have a greater impact.

After you’ve completed all the units in this course, you can test your knowledge and earn a certificate.

[Produced by the U.S. Department of State]