4 Volunteer Engagement and Retention Tips for Your Organisation.

Use these four volunteer engagement and retention tips to create a more enjoyable volunteer experience.

4 Volunteer Engagement and Retention Tips for Your Organisation.

If your organisation is similar to most nonprofits, you likely rely on volunteer support to help run your programs and achieve mission-related goals. Volunteer work translates into tangible value for your organisation. In fact, the current value of an hour of volunteer work is $29.95!

It’s essential to develop a strategy to retain volunteers for the long term. Your nonprofit invests time and resources into training volunteers, and improving your retention rate leads to a higher return on this investment. 

We’re going to explore four volunteer engagement and retention strategies to help your nonprofit retain volunteers: 

  1. Provide a comprehensive training process. 
  2. Match volunteers with the right roles.
  3. Engage volunteers in multiple ways.
  4. Foster a positive environment.

The key to volunteer retention is the same as successful donor retention. Both efforts require creating personalised experiences for supporters, appealing to their interests and motivations, and showing your gratitude. Let’s dive into how you can apply those concepts to your volunteer relationships. 

1. Provide a comprehensive training process. 

When volunteers are comfortable in their roles, they’ll feel greater fulfillment from participating in your opportunities. An engaging, satisfying volunteer experience starts with a well-rounded training process. 

Try out these tips for a better recruitment and training process: 

  • Make role expectations clear. Write a detailed role description to send out during the volunteer recruitment process. Include information about shift lengths and dates, necessary skills, transportation requirements, and more. This lets new volunteers know exactly what they’re signing up for. 
  • Allow for hands-on training experience. Let volunteers gain hands-on experience by working with your equipment or practicing tasks in small groups. Make sure to monitor each group and answer any questions trainees may have. 
  • Create a volunteer handbook. Your volunteer handbook should include frequently asked questions and highlights from the information you reviewed in your training session. Send volunteers a copy of the handbook via email and store a digital file on your website or organisation page to make it easily accessible. 

Make sure to market your volunteer program clearly and accurately so you’re attracting the right people for your volunteer roles. This ensures that potential volunteers understand what’s being asked of them and can hit the ground running once they’ve completed training. 

2. Match volunteers with the right roles.

Volunteers will be much more likely to stay involved with your organisation if they truly enjoy the work that they’re doing. When volunteers have the opportunity to get involved in roles that suit their interests and skills, they’ll feel like their contributions actually make a difference. 

Use the following strategies to match volunteers with the right tasks: 

  • Send surveys to ask volunteers about their preferences and interests. Have volunteers fill out a survey during the onboarding process to learn about their interests and skills. Then, use this information to match them with positions that appeal to their preferences. 
  • Allow volunteers to switch roles if they aren’t comfortable in their positions. Volunteers might start in one role and realise it’s not the best fit for them. Allow them to shadow volunteers in other roles or do a trial run in a new position so they can find the role they feel the most comfortable in. 
  • Store volunteer preferences in your management system. Many management software systems will allow you to store donor and volunteer information within the same platform. Within your Deedmob platform, you can use your organisation page or back-end to keep track of volunteers’ preferences and send them information about opportunities they might be interested in. 

When volunteers feel engaged and passionate about their roles, they’ll be much more productive, which ultimately benefits both them and your mission. 

3. Engage volunteers in multiple ways.

Do you like doing the same thing over and over? Perhaps if you are “that type of person”, but you probably like some variety, right? The same thing goes for volunteers: they might start to get bored if they participate in the same types of activities shift after shift. Mix things up by engaging them in different projects at your organisation. These can include: 

  • Advocacy. Your volunteers can act as ambassadors for your cause, sharing their on-the-ground experiences working with your mission. Recruit volunteers to speak at events or sign petitions to help further your advocacy efforts. 
  • Pro-bono work. Many corporations encourage employees to get involved with pro-bono volunteer work. Some businesses even offer paid time off to volunteer. Recruiting corporate volunteers is a great way to form valuable business partnerships and create relationships with skilled volunteers. 
  • Microvolunteering. Microvolunteers engage in volunteering for shorter time periods. They may work on smaller, clearly-defined projects that can add up to a valuable effort over time. Offering microvolunteer opportunities can appeal to supporters who don’t have as much time to volunteer but still want to be involved. 

Offering multiple ways for volunteers to engage keeps them interested in your organisation and generates reliable support for all of your initiatives. 

4. Foster a positive environment.

Your volunteer opportunities shouldn’t feel like work. They should be fun and volunteers should be eager to return each shift. Foster a positive working environment using these best practices:  

  • Recognise volunteers when they go above and beyond. If a certain volunteer stayed 30 minutes after the shift ended to help clean up, helped out another volunteer who needed support, or bagged canned goods at an exceptionally fast rate, acknowledge them for these efforts. Compliment them in front of the group or offer them a special reward at the end of the shift to thank them for their hard work. Nobody hates a sincere compliment, right?
  • Offer social opportunities for volunteers. Have volunteers work in small groups so they can socialise as they work. You may also offer coffee or other refreshments after each shift to thank volunteers for their contributions and allow them to get to know one another. 
  • Allow long-time volunteers to take on leadership roles. Engage long-time volunteers on a deeper level by offering them leadership opportunities. For example, you might have them lead small groups or help new volunteers throughout the training process. 

Another effective way to foster a positive work environment is to frequently express your appreciation. Saying thank you goes a long way toward building strong volunteer relationships. 

To help your thank you messages stand out, consider writing handwritten thank you notes. Fundraising Letters recommends personalising these letters with volunteers’ names and references to the specific date that they volunteered. 

Also, be specific about volunteers’ impact. Let volunteers know how much time they helped save for your team or how many community members they assisted with their efforts. This helps volunteers understand how their contributions directly advance your mission forward, making it more likely that they’ll continue extending a helping hand. 


Volunteers give your nonprofit’s mission the support it needs to succeed. In return, it’s your job to offer volunteers a fulfilling experience that keeps them coming back. By incorporating these tips into your volunteer management strategy, you’ll be able to boost both their engagement and retention levels.

Some highlights of 5 years at Deedmob

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Gerbrand Holland

Growth Manager

Gerbrand Holland is Growth Manager at Deedmob