4 Tips to Increase Volunteer Loyalty

Your nonprofit has invested valuable resources into recruiting and onboarding volunteers. Now you’re tasked with convincing them to stick around for the long haul, increasing their volunteer loyalty. 

Fostering volunteer loyalty pays off. Engaging supporters and encouraging them to continue their involvement with your organization is much more efficient than constantly recruiting new volunteers (even though POINT makes it a lot easier). Plus, their lasting support will help advance your mission by them attracting even more volunteers to your thriving community.

In this post, we’ll give you some tips for building a volunteer loyalty program, including: 

  1. Get to know volunteers on a deeper level 
  2. Communicate effectively
  3. Make volunteering fun!
  4. Show appreciation beyond just saying “thanks”

With these strategies, your volunteers will feel valued by your org and look forward to your events which lays the foundation for long-term support.

1. Get to know volunteers on a deeper level

Volunteer data allows you to get to know volunteers better and make more informed decisions when choosing what, when, and how to communicate with them. It also shows you what’s working well and what needs improvement within your volunteer loyalty program. 

If you want to build deeper relationships with your volunteers, consider gathering the following information:

Photo by Zachary Nelson on Unsplash
  • Registration details, such as name, location, skills, and interests. This can be used to plan personalized marketing campaigns and volunteer opportunities. 
  • Volunteer history, including hours served and training completed, is useful for finding the most motivated and reliable volunteers in your program and recognizing them when they hit certain milestones. 
  • Email and phone information, as well as any communication preferences, so that your messages actually reach them.
  • Social media channels and handles. Follow your volunteers and tag them in your photos and posts, so that they can share it with their networks.

You can also send volunteers a quick survey with questions like “Why did you decide to volunteer?” or “What about our organization stood out to you?” or “What do you enjoy the most about volunteering with us?” The feedback will help you tailor engagement opportunities to their interests and motivations. 

Want to learn more about your volunteers? See how POINT can help. 

2. Make volunteering fun!

Strive to make volunteering for your organization a fun, memorable experience! While it doesn’t have to feel like a party, you can create an engaging environment that encourages volunteers to continue their service. Even using icebreakers or a quick, fun game to get the conversation flowing between volunteers (and any of your staff) helps people form connections that motivate them to come back.

These small gestures will make volunteers feel comfortable and supported at your organization, empowering them to serve to the best of their ability: 

  • Keep inclusivity top of mind. Ask your volunteers their pronouns when you onboard them and ensure staff and other volunteers are respectful. Don’t make assumptions about volunteers’ backgrounds (e.g., if they present Hispanic, don’t assume they can speak Spanish or can’t speak English), but rather create a supportive space where they can share their experiences if they want.
  • Provide plenty of snacks. Who doesn’t love free food? Make sure there are vegan or gluten-free options as well. 
  • Design and share branded merch. Coffee mugs, t-shirts, stickers, hats, and tote bags commemorate your volunteers’ hard work and serve as free advertising for your organization. 
  • Lead team-building exercises. Team building helps to manage conflict and inspire collaboration. 

Encourage volunteers to post about these incentives and activities on social media or reshare your organization’s posts. Showing people having a good time helping at your organization is free publicity that will help you regain inactive volunteers and retain current ones. 

3. Communicate effectively

Open communication is the key to building trust and commitment in your volunteer loyalty program. Keep your organization fresh in the minds of volunteers by regularly touching base and following these communication best practices: 

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash
  • Use different forms of communication: Having multiple touchpoints for communication helps everyone stay in the loop. Group chats, emails, phone calls, and social media are all great ways to reach out to volunteers. Just be sure to appeal to their communication preferences. For example, use your database and surveys to see if they prefer receiving updates through Twitter or through text messages from your nonprofit
  • Make your calls-to-action stand out: Let volunteers know exactly what you need from them by including a clear call-to-action (CTA) in your messages. Keep the language short and urgent, such as saying “Sign Up to Volunteer Today” in a colorful button or bolded link. That way, volunteers can easily lend their support. 
  • Create a volunteer webpage: Have a dedicated volunteer recruitment landing page on your site that includes volunteer opportunities, applications, and success stories. This will be the hub you send current and prospective volunteers to in your digital marketing materials.  POINT literally does this automatically for nonprofits!
  • Assign a point of contact: Provide your volunteers with the help and resources needed to succeed in their roles. Assign a point of contact to each role so that volunteers feel supported and have a specific person to turn to for questions and concerns.

Remember that personalized messages are much more meaningful than automated mass mailings. Simply acknowledge a volunteer’s name and past involvement in your outreach, like in this example: “Dear John, we’d like to thank you for volunteering your time and expertise at our afterschool program last month. Would you be interested in supporting our tutoring program as well?”

4. Show appreciation beyond just saying “thanks”

Volunteers donate their time and talents to your organization, often expecting nothing in return. While you might not be able to shower your volunteers with gifts, you can still give them meaningful recognition that emphasizes their value to your mission. 

Photo by Dimitar Belchev on Unsplash

Here are a few ways to show your appreciation for their hard work and dedication: 

  • Feature volunteer stories in your blog, social media posts, and newsletter. Share testimonials and success stories to show the difference your volunteer program is making. For instance, you could mention that, because of the help of your volunteer construction crew, you were able to build 10 new homes for families in need. 
  • Host an appreciation event. Depending on your budget, you could throw an extravagant gala or a simple cookout at your office or a park. Regardless of your chosen event, it can unite volunteers and celebrate their accomplishments.
  • Send out thank you letters. Fundraising Letters’ guide to thanking volunteers says that a handwritten letter helps to build personal connections. While you should focus your letter on expressing your appreciation, you can also note any upcoming events or opportunities. 

Ensure your recognition is timely and relevant. Don’t wait a year to acknowledge your volunteers– that delay won’t help you increase loyalty. Instead, try to follow up within 24 hours to a week for the most impact. 

Looking to retain your volunteers? POINT has you covered.

From communicating clearly to showing appreciation, there are several ways to build a more loyal volunteer program. Remember to keep an eye on the whole experience you’re offering volunteers and be willing to make improvements as needed.

Photo Brandy Strand
Brandy Strand
Nonprofit Partnerships Account Executive

No guilt trips, no sad stories. Just a chance to do something good.