Inspirational/Motivational Management: How to Keep Volunteers Coming Back | Track It Forward

Inspirational/Motivational Management: How to Keep Volunteers Coming Back

Written by James McBryan

Efficiently managing volunteers involves a bit of psychology and a bit of empathy. Why would someone help you for free? What kind of experience is a volunteer seeking when they show up at your door? This kind of key information should be assessed at initial intake.

Understanding what drives a volunteer will help you understand how to retain them. If the situation is mutually beneficial, the participant will be more inclined to stay.

Although no one is a carbon cutout, the following personality sketches may help you decipher the needs of the individual:

The activist wants to volunteer with you because they want to make a difference. They see social change as necessary and urgent. Assignment: Put the activist on a project that makes an impact on the big picture. Let them know that what they do is essential to the survival of the cause.

The loner is either looking for ways to connect or just needs to get out of the house. It’s an important distinction. Assignment: If the loner wants more company, match them with other volunteers, preferably those with nurturing tendencies; if the loner would prefer to work independently, be sure that they stay busy. Idle time will make the loner feel more awkward than they already do. Be mindful of embarrassing this personality type with loud critique or praise.

The social butterfly likes to flutter around and network with just about everyone. Building community is like breathing for this extrovert. Assignment: Fundraising, increasing public awareness about your organization or recruiting other volunteers is a great way to use the social butterfly’s particular skill set.

The leader wants to be in charge, all of the time. This tenacious character will probably assume authority, even if you haven’t bestowed any. Assignment: Put the leader in charge of something, anything. This person may be suited to assist the volunteer coordinator. But be sure that the leader is using power responsibly and respectfully. Kindness should be a prerequisite. Invite the leader to meetings. When planning relevant projects, ask them for input. Warning - the leader can make or break your volunteer operation. Be hyper vigilant about tuning in to how they affect other volunteers. An unmonitored tyrant can kill a good vibe in an instant.

The achiever is donating time in exchange for new skills. Open up staff training sessions to your volunteers. Inform them of job openings in your organization. Assignment: Find out what the achiever is interested in and what their long term goals are. Give them a task that expands expertise or builds their resume.

The big heart is full of love for the planet. The big heart seeks ways to make others happier. Assignment: Give the big heart a task that will allow them to provide emotional comfort or physical assistance to someone that really needs it.

The brainiac takes pride in intellectual prowess or technical know-how. Assignment: Give the brainiac a task which requires problem-solving skills.

The doer would rather be in a hands-on setting than sitting in a chair all day. Assignment: Put the doer on any outdoor endeavor. If that’s not an option, regularly send them on errands to give them a chance to be out of the office.

Once you’ve delegated wisely, appreciate everyone for the very unique and specific contribution that they make!