We’ve recently undertaken an evaluation of a project which relies heavily on the support of volunteers. Every volunteer we spoke to without exception said that they thoroughly enjoyed their role and many of them had been with the charity for over 5 years.

As it’s Volunteers’ Week we thought it might be useful to share some of their feedback on what makes this organisation so great when it comes to volunteers!

  1. Volunteers are clear on what the expectations are

We can’t emphasis this enough, it came up time and time again in conversation with volunteers. They were all clear what they were being asked to do and how much was expected of them. They said the volunteer co-ordinator was always on hand to answer any questions but gave them enough space to complete the tasks they were given.

  1. Clarity on how their role supports the work of the organisation

We all know that some of the roles we ask volunteers to do are, frankly, boring! They acknowledged this too but said that if they could see how their work supported the bigger picture they were much more likely to feel important, valued and to take pride in their contribution.

  1. Progression routes

If you have taken the time to understand the individual circumstances of your volunteers, including their strengths and what they hope to gain from the experience, then you are in a good position to be able to provide progression opportunities to help them achieve their goals.

For example, one volunteer we spoke to wanted to become a mentor on a particular project. They had mapped out with their volunteer co-ordinator the steps they would need to take to gain the relevant experience and were at the beginning of their journey. Although their current role was data entry, they were clear how this fitted into the bigger picture in supporting the organisation and also how it supported their own development and understanding of client needs.

  1. They feel valued

Of course, Volunteers’ Week is a great time to publicly acknowledge the contribution that volunteers make but what stood out when speaking to these particular volunteers was how valued they already felt and how significant this was in their decision to remain as a volunteer.

It’s hard to describe how to make someone feel valued but what we observed in this organisation was:

  • Each volunteer has a job description
  • They have a profile on the organisation website
  • There is a volunteers’ handbook
  • They get a monthly email from the volunteer co-ordinator
  • They take part in quarterly steering groups

We hope you’ve found this useful. Just a few small changes can make your volunteers feel valued and help make a long-reaching contribution to your charity.