To keep volunteers loyal, it’s important to understand why people give up their time, unpaid, and work for NFPs. There are plenty of different reasons, but three that stand out are

• the instinct to help others

• to support a cause close to their hearts

• to feel good about making a contribution

At MAST we are experienced in using databases and CRM systems to keep volunteers loyal through recognition, engagement and support.

Read more about why people volunteer and details of Volunteers’ Week 2020.

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The value of a volunteer hour

Volunteers make a huge contribution to the UK economy. Our national total of more than 11 million unpaid volunteers contribute over £17 billion to our national earnings (Source: NCVO). Each volunteer hour has been calculated as approximately £12 (Source: ONS). NB Figures quoted are prior to COVID-19 outbreak and increase in volunteering.

How do CRM systems work for volunteers?

Volunteers, like donors and members, are key stakeholders for NFPs. Without a willing unpaid workforce, many charities and membership organisations would fail.

Keep accurate, up-to-date contact details

The foundations of any volunteering organisation are the contact details of all participants. Data needs to be managed and maintained, as efficiently as possible.

Record and recognise how volunteers contribute

To recognise the contribution of individual volunteers, you need to keep track of what they have done. Always let them know how much their efforts are appreciated.   

Support volunteers with resources, training and goals   

Volunteers need to be able to refer to guides, peers and paid staff and must know what is expected of them. Resources such as a knowledge database can be of huge help.

How Mast helps on volunteer loyalty and engagement

Learn more at Fundraising Database Review and Membership Database Review [new pages,  links tbc]

Every volunteer counts. Look after them all.

Engage all your volunteers

Take steps to make your volunteers feel needed by making sure they understand the tangible ways in which they are helping. Show appreciation privately and publicly, through a quiet word through to awards for outstanding service. Develop a contact cycle for your volunteers as you would for donors and members, and make sure there are plenty of opportunities for feedback. Foster a sense of community and celebrate success and milestones.

Set goals for volunteers

Inspire your volunteers with the cause! Volunteer motivation comes largely from buying into the higher aims of the charity, club, trade union or professional body. Use your contact channels to remind all stakeholders – not just volunteers – about the wider benefits of what you are doing. Give volunteers clarity on what they are doing individually, and show how they are making a difference.

Invest in volunteer training

Volunteers deserve proper training for the duties they are asked to perform. Thorough training shows that you value them, and are prepared to spend time and effort to help them achieve results. Just as for paid employees, training equips volunteers to perform their tasks efficiently and effectively. Face to face training will always deliver the best results, but online content has a valuable role too.    

Support your volunteers

Whatever kind of organisation you are running, support for volunteers helps them feel valued and engaged. If they have questions, problems or simply need more information, it should be available either from members of your team or from online forums and FAQ pages. One-to-one support is not practical in all situations, so when you are designing systems for your organisation it is important to include a Volunteers section of the website.

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