As an activist, have you ever been stuck in the endless recruitment cycle? Are you continuously recruiting for the next big thing and never able to engage those who have already volunteered toward your mission? If you’ve been involved in an organization or community effort for any length of time, you have probably encountered a volunteer recruitment rut.

Let’s be honest, this endless cycle is unbearable and damaging for progressing your cause.

So, for a moment, shift your focus and attention to Think Retention First!

Remember to be a successful leader in volunteer recruitment, you must first have a retention plan. It doesn’t matter how many volunteers you can recruit if they never return to help after their first interaction with your effort. Retaining quality volunteers requires a lot less work than constantly recruiting and training new ones, but you must create a plan for retention.

Here are five ways to start retaining your volunteers.

1. Understand Their Value – Once we connect to the fact that our volunteers time, energy, and efforts come at a high price, we begin thinking strategically about how we
will use their time, efforts, and skill-set for a specific action.

2. Help Your Volunteers Find Their Niche – Are they working where they’re fulfilled? We want our new volunteers to come back and join our cause again and again. But before we can place them in a role where they will thrive, we must first know what motivates them and excites them enough to give their time.

3. Build and Maintain A Consistent Communication Plan – create a weekly or bi-weekly communication plan, an organized volunteer “huddle” or “meet-up.” Having a methodical way of communicating with your volunteers will help them to feel engaged and involved in the needs of your community.

4. Have Enough Tasks for All Your Volunteers – What happens if someone shows up to volunteer for an event and you don’t have a task for them? Volunteers can be very disillusioned with your value of their time, when they’ve given a morning of their time, only for lack of organization to squandered their enthusiasm.

5. Don’t Burn Them Out! – If you have a big event that you’ve been working towards for a long time, and it is going to require a big lift for volunteers’ time and energy. Make sure you don’t burn them out too soon; break your project into manageable time commitments. Ask your new volunteers to give just 4 hours of time instead of an all-day commitment. If you ask for too much on their first visit, next time they may not come back.

When you start recruiting to retain, you won’t be stuck in an endless cycle of recruit and replace. You will begin to experience a stronger culture where volunteers continue to return and hopefully will even start recruiting for you by inviting others to join them.

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