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Volunteer Retention: Today’s Tip for Incentivizing Volunteers


Understanding why an individual is volunteering can help a nonprofit organization motivate and retain efficient and passionate volunteers. Just as every person has unique motivational tendencies, each nonprofit organization should have a diverse set of tools and resources they can use to motivate their volunteer workforce. Depending on the volunteer, motivation may come from an internal desire to give back to the community with no thought of personal benefit to volunteering. Other volunteers may be motivated by a desire for self-improvement or personal gain such as improving one’s resume, college application, etc. When you understand a volunteer’s driving force, you can put processes, programs and rewards in place that will feed their motivation to contribute their time and talents to your organization.

Just as people interview for paid positions, nonprofits that adopt the practice of a brief interview with volunteer candidates will ensure that enlisted volunteers have an interest in the work that the nonprofit organization is performing as well as an understanding of the organization’s overall mission. An interview will help you better understand the volunteer’s experience and background so you can place her in a role she’ll succeed with and find fulfillment in. For instance, volunteers who are looking to gain experience in an office or administrative setting may be highly motivated to complete tasks such as such as cleaning, filing, organizing, and creating spreadsheets. Those who are more altruistically motivated should be placed in tasks where they can see they have a direct impact on your organization’s mission.

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