How to Engage Volunteers Effectively

Volunteers are the backbone of many nonprofit programs and initiatives, often providing the extra manpower and resources needed to realize an organization’s mission. Having a plan to help ensure they are committed is key to having a volunteer base you can depend on time and time again. Here are 5 tips to engage volunteers so they are motivated to help your organization meet its goals.

Create a Volunteer Training Program

A volunteer training program is your opportunity to give volunteers a full understanding of your organization’s mission and to inform them of the different ways they can contribute. For many volunteers, the training program is similar to a “rite of passage”; they are motivated by the idea that after the training, they will become an integral part of a larger team working to advance the same cause.

Set Realistic Expectations and Actionable Steps for Volunteers

Volunteers offer their time and energy to an organization because they are passionate about its mission. Failing to help volunteers translate that passion into actionable steps creates a feeling that their efforts are not making a real difference in their community. Creating a handbook with a description of specific volunteer roles, clear expectations, and actionable steps will make volunteers feel that they have a specific role in creating measurable change.

Volunteers are an intrinsic part of any organizations delivery of services and impact.

Get to Know Your Volunteers Personally

No one wants to work with an organization that doesn’t show any interest in making a personal connection with its volunteers. One way to make that connection is to put together “meet and greets” or other networking events that allow volunteers and staff to get to know each other personally. You can also connect with volunteers on social media.

Respect Volunteers and Value Their Time

Volunteers are busy people who dedicate time and energy to serve your organization. You must treat each volunteer as an individual with valuable and legitimate ideas and opinions and help them make the most efficient use of their time. Be mindful of volunteers’ time by providing an easy way to register to events online, providing thorough details of volunteer responsibilities to avoid wasting time, and promptly responding to volunteer needs and requests. This will not only increase your volunteer count but make volunteers want to come back and volunteer more.

Recognize Your Volunteers for Their Service

Taking the time to thank volunteers for their service goes a long way. Consider sending out volunteer thank you cards or even gift cards to let them know that you appreciate their commitment to your organization. Hold a volunteer recognition event to acknowledge the contributions of individual volunteers. Even simple gestures like providing food for volunteers while they work go a long way in showing your appreciation.

By following these tips, you’ll be sure to keep your organizations volunteers motivated, interested and coming back to help advance your organizations mission!

Written by Raydia Martin, Business Intern at The Empowerment Center

To learn more about training and recruiting volunteers, write us at

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Published by The Empowerment Center LLC

We are a business empowerment consulting firm located in Cleveland, Ohio. We provide economic empowerment services to nonprofit and public sector businesses to include grant writing, development and consulting.

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