Why Volunteer Retention Could Be Decreasing

Is there a reason you’re losing volunteers? If you’ve noticed that people aren’t coming back, you may wonder if the exits reflect on your nonprofit. Sometimes you can address the reasons volunteers quit at an organizational level, and sometimes they’re personal issues you cannot resolve. Here are five of the top reasons good volunteers leave — along with some solutions you can use to help keep them around.

1. Lack of Time

There are only so many hours in the day, and between work, family, school, and other commitments, everyone stays busy. The most common reason volunteers stop working with you is simply lack of time. They may want to help, but they have to choose between coming to one of your events or visiting a parent in an assisted living facility. Rightly, the parent will win every time.

The solution: Offer shorter shifts for volunteers. Almost anyone can fit a half hour to an hour session into their schedule.

How Volgistics can help: Create a series of short schedule openings, and allow volunteers to schedule themselves. They’ll be able to pick up one or more in a row, depending on how much time they have.

2. Confusion Over Volunteer Duties

No one likes to feel as though they’re doing a poor job. When volunteers do not receive enough guidance or feedback, they can get frustrated. They don’t understand what to do, and they may not want to come back because of it.

The solution: Provide a written summary of duties expected from a volunteer position, and meet with the volunteer before they begin to make sure they understand what’s expected of them.

How Volgistics can help: Add details about each assignment in Volgistics. Volunteers can access it through clickable links on the schedule or your Opportunity Directory. You can use the checklist to ensure volunteers see a description as part of the on-boarding process.

3. Insufficient Organizational Support

When something goes wrong, a volunteer wants to know they can bring the problem to you and receive support and guidance. If they instead get someone pointing the finger at them, they’ll no longer want to spend their free time with your organization.

The solution: Welcome feedback and suggestions from your volunteer crew. Implement their good ideas, and tell people where the new adjustments came from. Show compassion when volunteers run into problems.

4. Missing Public Kudos

Everyone wants to feel loved and appreciated. When employees are not shown the proper appreciation, they can become disengaged. The same is true for volunteers. This feeling may prompt them to leave you.

The solution: Tell people how much you appreciate their efforts. Better yet, show them. Buy them a $5 gift card to a local coffee shop, or write them a heartfelt thank you note. By acknowledging their contributions to the company, you show them how much you value their contributions and how critical they are to the organization.

How Volgistics can help: Send out personalized email messages to your volunteers, or show a custom greeting card when they sign in at VicTouch. You can also establish awards for volunteer milestones.

5. Burnout

If your nonprofit demands a lot from its volunteers, they may complain of burnout, which could lead them to quit. Dealing with highly emotional topics can take a toll on volunteers. Likewise, if they start by coming in 10 hours a week, they may find that it’s too much. Instead of pulling back, they could choose to leave altogether.

The solution: Look for signs of burnout in your volunteers — such as canceling shifts or appearing listless — and address them head-on. Ask if they need a break or could use assistance. Even just listening to them talk can encourage them to stay.

How Volgistics can help: Use the checklist feature to remind you to check in with volunteers regularly, and keep track of when you’ve done so.

By instituting solutions to common issues for volunteers, you can reduce your turnover rate. You may also want to check out opportunities for automating tasks for volunteers, such as scheduling, by using Volgistics software. Contact us today or schedule a demo to learn more.

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