Keeping volunteers motivated can be a challenge, especially when monetary compensation isn't an option. But don't worry, there are plenty of ways to make sure your volunteers stay engaged and enthusiastic. Here are some awesome tips to help you out!

Understand your volunteers

By taking the time to get to know who your volunteers are and what they care about, you can create a positive experience for them ensuring the success of your organization! A great place to start is to recognize the different types of volunteers who work with your non-profit.

Different types of volunteers

Though every person is unique, some typical commonalities exist between specific groups. When you segment your volunteer base into categories such as age, motivation, interests, etc., you'll understand who they are. This can help you tailor your volunteer outreach and communications to better engage each group.

Here are some techniques you can use today to help you understand your volunteers more personally.

Listen to your volunteers

Listening to their ideas and feedback is key to understanding your volunteers. The more you let them tell you about themselves and what they're interested in, the easier it'll be to find the right kind of incentives to keep them motivated.

Ask them personal questions

People often need a bit of coaxing to open up. Kick off a more personal conversation by asking them questions about themselves - it's that easy! Invite them to share a bit about their life and you might be surprised by the results.

Use ice-breakers

Get to know your volunteers better by using icebreakers and other team-building exercises. You could set up a Q&A game related to your cause, go to an event together, or organize a scavenger hunt. These activities bring people closer together and also help them learn about each other's competencies, as well as any attitude or behavior that could impact the team.

Offer a flexible schedule

Offering flexible schedules is the perfect way to keep your volunteers content and productive. Flexible scheduling lets them work when they're feeling most motivated, be it early in the morning or late at night. It also means they can manage their personal lives without worrying about work-life balance.

Here are some ways to make it work.

Remote volunteering

There are plenty of volunteer opportunities that don't require people to leave the comfort of their own homes, which is particularly helpful if you happen to live in a rural area. Online work like social media management, data entry, and creating templates can be done at one's convenience. Phone banking and filling envelopes are low-tech remote options to think about as well.

Allow walk-in volunteering

Sometimes people are more spontaneous or aren't available during your scheduled volunteer events. Offer walk-in volunteer opportunities during times when you need extra hands like during the holidays.

Plan family-friendly events

Many people reserve their weekends for their families. If you have volunteer activities that little ones can participate in, volunteers won't have to choose between volunteering and family time.

Offer Recognition & Appreciation

It's easy to get caught up in the daily grind, so it's important to make sure your volunteers know that their hard work and achievements are valued. Whether it's a simple "thank you" or a more elaborate reward system, offering recognition is a great way to lift morale, increase motivation, and improve productivity.

Here are the best ways to say thank you to your volunteers:

  • Give your appreciation in-person
  • Provide opportunities for growth
  • Offer monthly volunteer awards
  • Highlight a volunteer every week
  • Send a year-end thank-you letter
  • Host volunteer appreciation events

We have more tips to help you understand how to recognize the incredible work done by your volunteers. Showing your appreciation for their help is sure to make your volunteer program even more successful!

Read more: Best Practices: 10 Ways to Make Volunteers Feel Appreciated to Boost Retention

Offer Discounts & Gifts

Discounts and gifts are two of the best ways to get volunteers excited about your events! Everyone loves a good deal, so offering freebies is an awesome way to get people interested in participating in your volunteer program.

Check out these perk ideas you can start offering to your volunteers.

Free clothing

Doing something good for someone else can make you feel great, and it's even better if you get something awesome in return. The Red Cross is giving away Snoopy shirts to those who give blood. People love Snoopy making this a great way to incentivize them to donate their life-saving blood.

Gift certificates from local businesses

Check with the companies you've partnered with to see if they have any gift cards or coupons for your volunteers. Stores like Target are known for giving away $5 gift cards for non-profits, which would make great rewards for your volunteers.

Offer a sense of community

Volunteering gives you that feeling of being part of something. You get to connect with staff, other volunteers, and the organization you are helping. And when people feel satisfied, they stay longer and do more!

Try these strategies to create a sense of community among your volunteers.

  • Name badges are a must-have for your team members and volunteers. It's the quickest way to get to know each other's names. So make sure everyone's wearing them.
  • Taking pictures of everyone on the team and putting them up on a bulletin board or website is a great way to be reminded of everyone's name.
  • Set up a central spot at your headquarters to give volunteers a place to gather and store their belongings. A drawer and a bulletin board with sign-in sheets and news will help keep track of who's items are where.
  • Make sure your team greets volunteers whenever they spot them. Ensuring people are welcomed should be part of their duties.

Encourage feedback

Feedback is incredibly beneficial because it gives you an insight into what volunteers think of your organization as well as ideas for how you can improve it. Here are some tips for making the feedback loop hassle-free.

Run a survey

Surveying your volunteers on an annual, monthly, or even post-event basis is easy with an online tool like Civic Champs. You can type up the questions, send out a link to the survey in an email, and compile the answers fast. But, keep it short and sweet with no more than 10 questions so your volunteers don't get overwhelmed.

Meet with your volunteers

Have a 1-on-1 meeting or organize a group discussion to get feedback. Listen to what your volunteers have to say, then try to repeat what you heard and ask if you got it right. If someone brings up an issue, ask for ideas on how to solve it. Invite them to be part of the solution and don't forget to thank them for their input.

Motivate Your Volunteers the Civic Champs Way

Keeping your volunteers motivated is key to running a successful volunteer program! Take the time to get to know their needs, motivations, and interests. Create a supportive atmosphere, show your appreciation with recognition, discounts, and gifts, and don't forget to listen to their feedback.

All of these things will help you get the most out of your volunteers and unlock their full potential! Using Civic Champs volunteer management software will help you stay on top of it all so you can provide your volunteers with an experience that'll keep them coming back.

About the Author:
Geng Wang

As CEO of Civic Champs, I lead our team of passionate change leaders to create technology solutions to create a seamless and rewarding volunteering experience for both volunteers and service organizations.