1) Develop a Nonprofit Orientation & Training
You used your incredible new recruitment strategy to bring on some of the best and most passionate talent to your nonprofit – now you just have to keep them around! The process of retention starts the minute the volunteer walks in the door for orientation and training. Without these two critical events, volunteers are likely to feel uncared for, overwhelmed, and ill-equipped to handle the tasks given to them. It is important to acknowledge and appreciate the differences between an orientation and a training.
-An orientation is an event or series of events in which you and your team help volunteers better understand the mission and vision of the organization, give more insight into the nonprofit’s culture and guidelines, and help them become more familiar with the physical environment in which they will be working (e.g., where the coffee maker and bathrooms are).
-A training is typically more tailored, specifically teaching volunteers how to fulfill their duties and perform their assigned tasks well by showing them how various tools are to be used, how the tasks are to be performed, and what specific goals are to be met.
The Galaxy Digital piece below sheds some light on the purpose and advantages of orientations as well as some of the most important characteristics of orientations while the Community Tool Box piece elaborates on nonprofit trainings and how to best equip your volunteers for success.
2) Promote a Healthy Culture Around Volunteers
While successful volunteer retention starts with effective volunteer recruitment, policies and practices can be put in place that make the environment more welcoming, supportive, and conducive to personal growth for those willing to give up their time to serve. Because volunteers are providing their time, resources, and abilities to your organization for free, staff members must be intentional about generously thanking volunteers for their service and showing them how their actions help the nonprofit and create real impact for those the organization serves. Furthermore, your team must be sensitive to the needs and motivations of those supporting you and make efforts to provide them with opportunities to grow in the subject matter areas and skill sets most important to them. The Neon article below includes a list of seven of the most important things a nonprofit can do to retain these individuals and enhance volunteer satisfaction.
While many of the volunteer management strategies found throughout the resources are applicable to all kinds of volunteers, nonprofits utilizing religious volunteers must take particular care to understand the unique passions and motivators of these individuals. Often driven by more than just a general desire to “be a good person,” Christians typically serve to fellowship with others, reflect the Lord’s love to those that have been forgotten or marginalized, and grow in their faith and intimacy with God. The article below from the North American Association of Christians in Social Work sheds light on the special characteristics of faith-driven volunteers and helpful strategies both secular and faith-based nonprofits can use to engage them well.