Motivation of Volunteers

Most of what is accomplished in my work is through an army of volunteers, all for whom I am grateful!  Motivation is a key piece to the effective work of any team, especially a volunteer team.  I was intrigued by a statement I recently read from Thomas McKee who said, “the very busy, cyber connected, multi-tasked 21st century volunteers are not afraid of commitment.  In fact, today’s volunteers demand a high level of commitment because they don’t want to give time to an organization that isn’t making a difference.”

Here are some thoughts for motivating your volunteers. 

1)      Be an organization making a difference.  Make sure you are moving forward and not just marking time.  The single best volunteer motivator is a positive outcome from their work. 

2)      Plan ahead.  In order for volunteers to participate meaningfully, they have to have time to process, plan and do the work that is needed.  Though most people will pull through on short notice, it’s not a sustaining characteristic. 

3)      Share the successes.  When something happens in your organization, get the word out. Keep these good news bits coming consistently, publicity and generously!  Give credit to your volunteer teams. 

4)      Create opportunities for feedback. This is one of the best ways for organizations to grow and flourish – find times, as often as possible, to get feedback from those who are on the front lines. 

5)      Keep volunteers in the loop.  Any organization that is making a difference is going to experience change.  Share those coming changes with your volunteers, they are some of the best ones to help lead the change.  They will do so with a positive outlook, to all their circles of influence, if they feel like they are in the loop beforehand.   

6)      Work to create connections.  Connections and friendship are key to sustaining and recruiting.  Connections make the work more fun.  Send a note, call a volunteer, have a party.  Love your volunteers and keep them connected.

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