Improving Volunteer Retention

Volunteers are an essential component of any nonprofit organization. By offering their time, skills and knowledge, volunteers work on behalf of organizations to help further causes, boost fundraising results and help drive the impact of the organization. In 2014, volunteers’ dedicated time turned out to be worth the equivalent of $22.50/hour, proving that time really is money. Although volunteers are not paid, they should be treated just as any for-profit organization would treat their employees, which includes education, empowerment, and matching skills and strengths to organization tasks and needs. Check out’s suggestions for improving volunteer retention.
Education & Empowerment
Just like any for-profit organization, volunteers are an extension of the brand. You want your volunteers to feel confident in their ability to represent the organization and assist with tasks. Before starting your volunteers on a task, have an educational session, where you speak about the brand, goals, the inflow and outflow of money, and how volunteers are assigned to specific tasks.
Matching Volunteer Strengths to Organization Needs
It is important as an organization to select tasks for volunteers that align with their skill sets. Numerous studies have found that volunteer retention rates are higher when volunteers utilize their skills because they feel they are able to contribute the most from their own expertise. For example, if you need an Instagram savvy person for social media outreach, don’t assign someone who knows nothing about social media just because there is a void to fill. Keep volunteers in the loop about opportunities through an e-mail list, or by posting online or on social media.
Maximize Fundraising Potential by Using Volunteer’s Strengths
Similar to assigning volunteers tasks that align with their skill sets, it is also important to assign various fundraising tasks to volunteers by personality and confidence in social situations. According to Roth and Ho, authors of “The Accidental Fundraiser,” volunteers who are helping with fundraising efforts tend to fall into three categories:
  • Entertaining: Socially outgoing, welcoming and creative. They would most likely be found hosting a house party or participating in special event committees.
  • Selling: Some people could sell water to a fish. These volunteers would be great at selling swag and event tickets, but they may be less comfortable with asking directly for money.
  • Asking Directly: These people are likelier to have fundraising experience and are comfortable with soliciting for donations. They may have overcome their insecurities about asking through prior experience in sales.