Care and feeding of volunteers

My branch president forwarded the following:

We were really intrigued by a chart we saw that showed the vast differences in volunteer retention among the 50 states, ranging from a high of 76.4 percent in Minnesota to a low of 47.2 percent in Mississippi. It seemed to us like there must be some pretty solid managerial tools that can be used to get those numbers closer to the Minnesota range, so we called on Robert Grimm, director of research and policy development for the Corporation for National and Community Service a couple of weeks ago. He pointed to the fact that one out of three people who volunteer in a year don’t volunteer at all the next year. “We have a leaky bucket in volunteering,” he said. “About 21 million people who volunteered in 2005 didn’t volunteer in 2006.”

What’s to be done? Grimm had a few ideas:

  • Volunteers have to be challenged to use their skills effectively; it’s just silly to use a trained social worker to stuff envelopes.
  • Regular opportunities to volunteer – rather than sporadic ones – tend to keep people interested and engaged.
  • Organizations that screen and match their volunteers, provide recognition for their volunteers and have some kind of individual on staff to manage the volunteers do best at retaining these helpful people.
  • Volunteers will thrive if they report to someone who demonstrates that they’re important to the organization. Many organizations give volunteers to a lower-level employee, which leads them to believe they’re not seen as an important resource.
  • It can be very helpful to offer some training or professional development for the volunteers.

Food for thought … Original source:

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