As we wrap up the month of April, I am sure you will agree that the need for volunteers doesn’t go away simply because Volunteer Appreciation Month is ending. Volunteers place a crucial role for nonprofits and ministries, allowing them to stretch and maximize their budgets. Every organizational leader that I talk with tells me that they are in need of more volunteers…either because they are worried about “burn out” amongst their volunteer pool or because they do not have enough volunteers to fulfill their missions.
According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, volunteerism is at an all-time high. In 2018, 77 million adults volunteered their time to an organization. The Independent Sector reports that on a national basis, the value of a volunteer’s time is $25.43 per hour! And yet, many organizations still report that they struggle or attract volunteers. Nonprofits and ministries can be successful in attracting volunteers if they understand how to attract volunteers. Attracting volunteers begins with understanding why people are motivated to volunteer.
It helps to understand the basics of motivational theory to understand why people do or don’t volunteer. People are generally motivated by three broad “needs” in their lives. Those with a need for Affiliation are people who want personalinteraction, to make friends, and be perceived as a “good” person. Those with a need for Achievement havespecific goals they want work toward; these individuals seek responsibility and view problems as challenges. Those with a need for Power have a need to impact and influence others; these people will generally keep an eye on the overall goals of the organization.
So, as you think about attracting and retaining volunteers, think about why people want to volunteer. What need in their life are they trying to fulfill? Obviously, it can be uncomfortable to ask potential volunteers, “do you want to volunteer because you have a need for achievement.” However, what you can do (and should do) is include a couple of questions on your volunteer application that ask why the individual wants to volunteer and why they are attracted to your organization.
Think about how your organization can help individuals fill these needs. You don’t have to go out of your way to meet the needs, but perhaps there are ways that you can tweak the way things are done so that you are meeting the needs of your volunteers.
Additionally, remember, that people are connected to an organization because the mission reaches their hearts. This means that you need to find a way to share the mission to “tug at the heartstrings,” without exaggerating or being slimy. Simply share the work you are doing, who you are reaching and why you are doing the work you are doing.
It may be helpful to develop a flyer or brochure with the sole purpose of recruiting volunteers. Think about the messaging you want to get across to them. When heartfelt connections are made, people will volunteer. Your organization can be successful in attracting volunteers! Share with us what has worked for you. Is your organization struggling? We can help you put together a successful program for volunteers.