Learning from volunteers

Our last blog reflected on the age of volunteers in many organisations and the increasing challenges organisations are facing in recruiting volunteers. In this blog, we’re reflecting on the retention of volunteers and ensuring that their views and feedback are captured.

We’ve worked with a couple of organisations in the past year where feedback from volunteers (as part of evaluations) has been key in improving delivery. One organisation had been struggling with volunteer retention and commitment – following feedback from volunteers last year, this has much improved this year. Volunteers feel supported and valued due to a package of expenses and support that’s now in place and are showing up consistently.

Another organisation has started making much more use of some key volunteers, who had indicated in their evaluation feedback that they had time, expertise and an interest in doing more for the organisation. They are now delivering far more, and the capacity of the organisation has been greatly increased.

Retaining volunteers, particularly those with experience and specific skills can make a huge difference. As the quote from the Time Well Spent survey below shows, there are factors that help. These are not rocket science, but when small organisations are facing ever-increasing pressure on their resources it can be easy to forget how important they are.

“Some factors seem to be particularly strongly associated with continuing to volunteer, including factors also associated with overall satisfaction: namely enjoyment, feeling like they belong to the organisation, there being a culture of respect and trust, making a difference and not feeling that things could be better organised.” 

Volunteer retention – Time Well Spent: A national survey on the volunteer experience | News index | NCVO 

When was the last time you formally sought feedback from your volunteers? Are they happy? Are there things that would improve their experience of volunteering with you? Are your volunteers feeling valued, feeling they make a difference, feel part of your organisation and are enjoying their role?

A little time spent on gaining their feedback and talking through how they are finding their experience could just make all the difference for them – and for your organisation.