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How to Keep Your Association’s Volunteers Coming Back for More

Keeping your volunteers happy can be the make or break for your association’s volunteer retention rates. However, with proper communication and understanding, you'll keep them around for a long time!

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Recruiting volunteers to your association can be quite the uphill battle.

It takes a lot to get people involved with philanthropy work. Chances are, your association puts a lot of effort into its volunteer recruitment strategy. And you probably have an amazing base of volunteers collected over the years.

But you don’t want to lose an of that volunteer power as time goes by. Keeping your volunteers satisfied with the service they provide your association is a must if you want the volume of volunteers you have to keep coming back in the future. And in order to do that, you need to come up with a strategy to attract and retain your volunteer base. Your volunteers are all their own person with unique wants and needs.

However, if you can come up with a way to keep them all generally content with their time helping your association, you can see them return for future opportunities. Let’s go over a few key tips to help your association lock in its current volunteer base. We’ll show you a few ways to assess your current volunteer satisfaction and how to win back the attention of your volunteers, new and returning. So, if you’re looking for a way to keep your volunteers coming back for more, keep reading on.

Volunteers: What do they want?

Your volunteers come to your association for a reason- and finding out that reason is entirely up to your association.

Why is it important to know? Well, if you can pinpoint exactly what your volunteers want out of the opportunities your association provides, you can give them more of what they’re looking for and keep them content. As we said before, each one of your volunteers are different and unique. However, here are a few general resources and needs your volunteers may be looking for in your association.


Often times, audiences are looking for volunteer opportunities that align with their own beliefs and morals. This gives them a sense of purpose, and drives them to help out more within that industry.

If your association is one that works towards a cause that many can get behind, you may see your volunteers flocking to help make a difference. This is especially common in associations that fight for environmental change, animal rights, or any other activist-type missions. Understanding the power your association’s mission has is a great way to better understand your volunteers and provide them with more ways to make an impact,

Career Resources

Another reason members and non-members may opt in on volunteer experiences is for the career skill development aspect. Volunteer work is a great resume builder for your volunteers (especially those of the younger generation). If your association is providing them with an opportunity to gain more hands-on experience and put it towards their future career, this may be appealing enough for volunteers to return. Your volunteers may be volunteering to pursue a leadership position at your association, or to just gain experience for other higher up industry positions. Either way, providing them with more professional skill-enhancing volunteer opportunities can increase your volunteer retention rates.

Community Development

Or, perhaps your volunteers come to your association for a chance to make their community a better place. Community support is an essential for any association. It’s important to show your members that you care about the local businesses and environment around you by hosting community building events that volunteers can take part in. If your members are looking for an opportunity to serve their community and build up local happenings, your associations local events are a great place to start.

Assess your current opportunities

If you want to make sure your volunteers are as content as they possibly could be, start by assessing the current opportunities you provide and how they reflect on your volunteers.

You can do this by first surveying your current volunteer base. Send out a survey prompting volunteers to share their current satisfaction with your association and its events. Ask them event-specific questions, and leave space for them to share personal experience with their time volunteering with your association. This way, you can get an exact read on where your volunteer opportunities need to step their game up. You can also do this by looking at your volunteer retention rates.

Chances are, if your volunteer numbers are dwindling with every opportunity, you have a problem on your hands. That’s why it’s important to keep track of your volunteer rates after each and every event, conference, or opportunity. Staying on top of your rates can save your association time and money in the long run. It gives you the knowledge to troubleshoot and gain back your volunteers at a faster pace.

By assessing your current volunteer satisfaction results, you can set a plan in place sooner rather than later and catch disengaged volunteers sooner, bringing them back into your association’s orbit.

Meet volunteers in the middle

If you notice your volunteers slipping out of your fingers and straying from future opportunities, here are some options you can implement into your volunteer retention strategy.

To start, you can give volunteers more of a say in their time spent with your association by providing a variety of volunteer plans and options. Consider offering a multitude of volunteer plans that vary in length, intensity, and other factors. This will allow your volunteers to move at their own pace and create their own volunteer schedule, getting only what they’re looking for out of your association while also lending a helping hand.

Or, you can also implement a recognition program to shine light on the volunteers that put their all into your work. A thank you goes a long way, especially with your volunteers. You can instill a recognition program within your volunteer plan that puts a reward out for volunteers that go above and beyond the call to action. This provides incentive for volunteers to keep coming back to your association to help out.

Don’t forget to say thanks

And finally, you always want to issue a proper thank you to your volunteers.

If this is something your association has overlooked in the past, it could explain a lack in enthusiasm for your volunteer base. Volunteers are looking for recognition from your association. They want to know their work makes a difference. Send out a generous thank you letter after each and every volunteer opportunity. Personalize your message and let volunteers know you couldn’t have put on your event or completed a mission without their generous help. If you have volunteers that consistently go above and beyond for your association, consider sending them a personal gift to let them know exactly how much you appreciate what they do.

Keeping your volunteers happy can be the make or break for your association’s volunteer retention rates. However, if you assess your current volunteer base and keep providing them with the incentives and opportunities they’re seeking, you’re bound to keep them around for the long haul.