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Recruiting (and Retaining) Volunteers

A few years ago, my love for animals motivated me to volunteer at a local animal shelter. I signed up, got my T-shirt, and attended orientation. I learned a lot about animal behavior, met some people, and signed up for shifts. A few days later, I was driving over in the mornings to walk and play with dogs, as well as clean their kennels. But just three weeks after I started, I stopped.

Does this sound familiar? You’re not alone. Keeping volunteers engaged is a challenge for many organizations. In fact, it was a huge problem for this animal shelter, which had even started charging volunteers $20 for T-shirts with the hope of getting them to commit long-term.

It wasn’t the animal shelter. It was me. Despite my $20 T-shirt investment and other factors that should have made me want to stay—monthly events to connect volunteers, several friends who worked there—I left because it wasn’t a good fit. While I love animals (my dog is a rescue pup!), I realized that I wanted to spend my limited time volunteering somewhere that better matched my interests and skills.

Retaining good volunteers starts with recruiting the right volunteers. Everybody is busy, so every organization needs to make sure their volunteers feel their time is being spent the right way and feel fulfilled by their assignments. The good news is that there are just as many types of people with different interests and skills as there are organizations contributing to the social good community. The bad news? This can be a confusing landscape to navigate.

Blackbaud University is here to help. Our new Organizational Best Practices: Volunteers—Recruitment and Retention workshop can help you attract volunteers who will fit best with your organization, and to develop creative and effective strategies to keep those volunteers once you get their feet through the door.
Posted by Jocelyn Wright on Feb 12, 2019 10:17 AM America/New_York

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Sounds like an interesting topic.
  • Posted Tue 26 Mar 2019 11:22 AM EDT
Thank you for the information.
  • Posted Tue 26 Mar 2019 11:50 AM EDT
Interesting.  I have worked for organizations that have volunteers that have been around for years, and others that volunteers are there one day and gone the next. I enjoy volunteering for organizations where I can utilize my skills, not just doing busy work.  I don't mind helping out with busy work regularly, but if you have a task that requires a specific skill that I have, sign me up and I will keep coming back.
  • Posted Mon 01 Apr 2019 01:41 PM EDT
Sounds interesting!
  • Posted Wed 03 Apr 2019 11:24 AM EDT
Thank you for the information!  Something that I'll be looking at in the coming weeks.
  • Posted Tue 30 Apr 2019 06:20 PM EDT
This sentence was an "ah ha" moment for me!  Everybody is busy, so every organization needs to make sure their volunteers feel their time is being spent the right way and feel fulfilled by their assignments.   When I volunteer I am usually given 2 choices or told to "jump right in".  I would rather take the time to answer a quick questionare about the best time for me to volunteer, a blank space to explain what I would like to do or what skills I would like to use, then a ranking question for the tasks that the organization needs to be done. 1 next to the task i'd most like to do and 10 for the task I'd least like to do.

Thank you Jocelyn Wright‍ for an Ah ha moment!
  • Posted Wed 01 May 2019 08:27 AM EDT