Whether you’re part of an established charity organization or hosting a one-off fundraiser, your first job is to recruit and retain your team. No matter what the cause, charities that last have one thing in common: a dependable team of volunteers. Here are six tips to help build a long-lasting relationship between your team and your cause.
- Start Close – build on your personal relationships by talking to family, friends and co-workers. Don’t be shy; remember that you’re not asking for yourself, but for the people your project will help. If you believe in the importance of your cause, people will be happy to get on board.
- Support Your Supporters – your volunteer teammates are the front-line soldiers for your cause—baking cookies, writing letters, packing boxes, cleaning up and so much more. Make sure you’re thinking of them as you plan your event: Will they have access to rest rooms, food and water, and somewhere to sit during breaks.
- Don’t Micro-manage Your Unpaid Help – you may not be giving your volunteers a salary, but you can give them room to add their own creativity. Empower volunteers by giving them problems to solve, rather than tasks to complete. They may surprise you with creative solutions, and they’ll definitely free you up from the necessity for continuous supervision.
- Be Clear About What You Need – people like to know what they’re getting into up front, so try not to surprise them with extra duties. If you continually add on time-consuming tasks people aren’t prepared for, they may grudgingly agree, but they’ll be less likely to sign on for your next event.
- Let People Know Who They’re Working For – give your team a chance to hear from the beneficiaries of your event or fundraiser. Use social media to post pictures and personal stories. Best of all are meet and greets – nothing motivates like hearing from someone you’ve helped.
- Thanks and Recognition – nothing says thanks like saying ‘Thanks!’ so do it loudly and often. Find as many ways as you can to express your gratitude to your team, including social media posts. If you’re giving gifts, they don’t have to be lavish, but they do need to be personal. And in the digital age, hand-written notes still have a place, so don’t stint.
Finally, remember that helping people overcome poverty, hunger and illness is serious business, but it’s equally important to let yourself and your volunteers have FUN doing it. Help people feel good about giving back!