A Leader’s List: 5 Ways to Keep Volunteers Engaged

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Courtesy of Carlisa Endoso

1. MAKE OUR VOLUNTEERS FEEL NEEDED AND APPRECIATED. 

Everyone loves to feel appreciated. Recognition, a simple thank you, and showing appreciation goes a very long way. As often as you task your committee members with “jobs to do,” spend an equal amount of time showing acknowledgement and appreciation. As humans, there’s no motivation as powerful as knowing that you’ve made a difference.

2. ASK COMMITTEE MEMBERS TO HELP IN SPECIFIC, ACTIONABLE WAYS

The best volunteers are those who have a sense of ownership of their project. Make expectations clear.  Some people like checklists. Literally, list steps 1-10.  Some people like to add their own twist and change things up. When is that ok? When is it not? Be explicit about the beginning-middle-and end of a project. What does that look like? What outcome is expected? What skills are needed to get from point A to point B? Note important dates. Send reminders. 

3. STAY CONNECTED AND ENCOURAGE COMMUNICATION

Keep in touch with your committee on a consistent basis. With the increase of social media, email, texting and the like, communication is easier than ever. Well, it should be, right!? Recognize and respect that favored modes of communication vary from person to person. Ask members how they most like to communicate; be it a phone call, text, snail mail, or email. When action is needed, set dates to reply by.  Set up follow-up trainings on best practices with relevant and necessary information including updates on what’s current with committee tasks.

4. DEVELOP A COMMUNITY OF “WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER!”

Build a sense of community among your committee. They should feel connected to each other and not just to the task at hand. Email threads can be helpful in this regard, but there’s no substitute for good, old-fashioned interaction…in person. Hold a face to face meeting. Collaborate. Together. Consistently.

5. BE A REFLECTIVE LEADER

You are a leader because your peers chose you. Be proud of that in itself! Reflect on your role and how it fits into the bigger picture. “Think back and look forward.” How can it be better next time? What was successful? What was challenging? What would you have done differently? What advice do you have for the next person who takes on your leadership role? Most of all, be proud and share that pride with your volunteers.

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