Having a strong volunteer workforce can be the driving force that helps you bring your vision of impact to life. You are only one person. You can’t do it all alone. Your board of directors have full-time jobs, families, and other obligations. They can’t do it all either. The board isn’t designed to do it all. They have their own role and functions in the organization. Your board of directors can’t also be the only workforce you have. That’s a recipe for burnout.
Volunteers sign up to work with your organization because they are passionate about your mission and share your desire to make an impact. So why don’t they stay and help you create that impact?
Here are three major reasons that volunteers don’t stay:
#1: Volunteers Don’t Understand How to Make an Impact
Often times someone volunteers and an organization immediately puts them to work. They get task after task and time that was supposed to be impactful starts feeling like a job. No one wants another job; especially one that doesn’t pay them.
It’s imperative that every volunteer understand the big picture and how their individual role impacts the greater vision. People begin to feel a sense of duty when they understand how they fit into the impact formula. When they feel a sense of duty, the remain committed and stay with your organization.
#2: The Organization Lacks Structure
When you have a small workforce, it’s all hands-on deck. While this approach is often one of necessity, it can create overlap in tasks, gaps in coverage and overall confusion. Volunteers need to understand a clear chain of command.
If the organization itself is unstructured, volunteers will not understand how they fit. There must be a clear path for volunteer management. That plan should be communicated effectively to include regular checkpoints, tracking and feedback.
Your volunteers are more likely to stay with your organization if they understand the structure and what’s coming next.
#3: There’s No Accountability
Parkinson’s Law states that work expands to fill the allotted time for completion. If you don’t have deadlines, you can’t expect that work be completed in a reasonable amount of time. Afterall, the word reasonable is not a measurable metric.
Additionally, I find that non-profits are afraid of accountability for fear of losing their only help. You cannot be afraid to hold people accountable. Your volunteers signed up to contribute. Your job is to show them how to best contribute, support their success in your organization and hold them accountable for their commitments.
Most volunteers stay with an organization for less than six months. Creating structure in the organization that includes a chain of command, an outline of impact and a system for accountability will help volunteers understand how they can best fit inside an organization. If volunteers understand how they fit, they are more likely to stay and continue to support your mission.
We’re just beginning to scratch the surface on how to effectively manage your volunteers. If you’d like to learn more about how to train and retain volunteers, I encourage to get started building your Volunteer Management System today. If you need a little help getting started, try downloading our Volunteer Training Templates.
These Canva templatesare plug and play. That means we guide you through creating your volunteer success training. Click the graphic above and get immediate access to the training templates you need to create your Volunteer Impact Army.