It’s really important to recognise that people volunteer for many reasons. Those reasons often coincide with or respond to basic needs that they want to fulfill. Some of those needs include:
- The need to improve or maintain self-esteem
- The need to feel that one’s contribution is genuinely useful and helpful
- The need to have a sense of having influence with an issue
- The need to have some level of control of self and environment
- The need for friendship
- The need to be recognised for one’s efforts
To enable successful recruitment and retention of volunteers, you, the volunteer recruiter must demonstrate that you recognise those needs, but not necessarily explicitly.
Don’t ever recruit a volunteer without a specific job in mind. This is demoralising and can be humiliating. By recruiting to specific roles, your volunteer is likely to maintain their commitment.
Recognise that your volunteers need to get to know the organisation and will require induction and training. Treat them as a member of staff, respect their opinion, involve them in decision making and give them responsibility.
An annual commendation ceremony gives the perfect opportunity to recognise and thank your volunteers.
Don’t ever recruit a volunteer to do the job a paid member of staff would normally do; they are the icing on the cake, the staff are the cakes.