As a volunteer manager for the past 20 years, there is one thing I know for sure: there is a cycle to volunteer management. And that cycle costs nonprofit and faith-based organizations thousands of hard-earned dollars every single year.
The volunteer recruitment cycle usually looks like this:
1. Recruitment (money is spent on placing ads, creating and posting flyers and staff time)
2. Training (money is spent on training, supplies, food, t-shirt, etc.)
3. Orientation (money is spent on staff time, supplies)
4. Volunteer serves well in their position
5. Volunteer begins to get tired of doing the "same old, same old," or feels burnt out
6. Volunteer quits or just "disappears", leaving a gap that is often filled by a paid staff person
7. Cycle starts all over again at recruitment
But what if there was a way to retain your valuable volunteers, which ultimately saves your organization money?
According to Give Them Something to Smile About, organizations spend up to five times more to develop a new volunteer than to cultivate greater exchanges with existing ones. Nonprofits lose money each time a volunteer decides to depart from a position. In my recent survey of volunteers that left their positions, 72.73% said they were not contacted by the organization to ask why they left their position.
What can a volunteer manager do when a volunteer quits?
1. Reach out to the volunteer and see if you can meet them for coffee (your treat!)
2. If they agree, spend some time during their meeting thanking them for their service! Then ask why they decided to stop volunteering.
3. Come prepared with other volunteer opportunities that may appeal to the volunteer. Maybe they served for the past 3 years as a volunteer on your event committee, but now they would rather serve as a volunteer ambassador who will recruit new volunteers? You never know until you ask!
4. Ask them how you can improve as a volunteer manager. Do they feel supported? Are they placed in the right position? What can you do better?
There will be times where the volunteer simply does not want to volunteer for your organization any longer- and that's okay! But you will be able to re-engage many of the volunteers who have left their positions for various reasons.
Mama. Wife. Poet. Teacher. Maniac.