Getting enough people to volunteer is a struggle many ministries face. Volunteer participation is rarely where it needs to be and even if it is, you need to stay on top of it. Usually, after taking a few steps to focus on engaging more volunteers, ministries find they have enough volunteers to get by. While manageable, it is a constant struggle.
Here are four ways you can engage volunteers to improve participation:
Spread the word that you need volunteers
Consistently letting people know you need help is a great way to improve volunteer engagement. While making large announcements definitely helps, you're probably better off focusing on one-on-one interactions. Email campaigns, social media and events are all appropriate ways to engage people. While reaching out to new people is great, you might want to focus your efforts on people who have volunteered with your ministry in the past. You know they are interested in what you do, and you already have their contact information. According to the Nonprofit Times, participants who have the least amount of hours are more likely to stop volunteering, so it's especially important to reach out to the people who only do so occasionally.
Make it fun
If volunteers enjoy the time they spend helping out, they're more likely to continue their activities in the future. For this reason, it's important to try to make volunteering fun. Give them incentives or start games or contests that they can participate in. Providing them with some kind of reward is another way to ensure they enjoy themselves.
Also, make sure they're connecting with the other contributors. Host games or events where people can meet, have a good time and hopefully become friends. If volunteers create friendships, they're more likely to continue to volunteer together in the future. Friends have fun together, so harboring strong relationships among volunteers is going to benefit you and your volunteers.
Encourage volunteers to bring friends and family
If you're looking to increase the number of volunteers you're seeing on a regular basis, encourage your current contributors to get their family members and friends involved. If a volunteer can recommend the opportunity to someone, that person is more likely to listen. If possible, make sure they work together at least the first few times they decide to come.
According to The New York Times, employers value volunteer experience. If a person learned valuable skills on the job, like how to run fundraising software or media software, they'd value them even more. For this reason, it's beneficial to educate your volunteers and show them how to do specific things. This can be a useful recruiting tool. Express to prospective volunteers that your volunteers learn management and leadership skills and they'll be more likely to sign up. While promising them that they'll learn new skills is one thing, actually educating them is another. Only promise them what you're actually willing to to teach, otherwise, they might stop volunteering.