Have you been working with the same volunteer program for as long as anyone at your organization can remember? Are things getting stale? Are you having trouble retaining volunteers or getting excited about your program? Try some of these tips for reenergizing your volunteer program.
Document the lessons you’ve learned
You’ve learned what works, or what doesn’t work, for your volunteer program. Make sure you can share what you’ve learned with others. Whether it’s an email to a colleague or a guide for what to do (or not do!) for a successful volunteer project, make sure to write down what you’ve learned so you can share it.
Recycling isn’t just for environmental projects
Keeping a record of the lessons you’ve learned from previous projects allows you to throw out what doesn’t work, and keep what does. Just because it has worked for you doesn’t mean it can’t be better, though. Try changing little bits about what has worked to see if it works better. If it does, keep the changes. If it doesn’t, go back to how things worked before and try adjusting something else. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel each time you want to try to improve your program.
Keep things simple
Sometimes complexity is required. Most of the time, though, something that seems like it ought to be complex can be broken down into smaller parts that are simpler than the overall task. Think about what you’re asking volunteers to do; really think about it. Can you make the tasks easier or more fun by breaking them down into smaller parts? If you can, do it! Fun is always a good thing to have, plus teaching a new volunteer can be easier if you can show them how to do what you’re asking in small bits rather than presenting the work as one giant task.
Find new ways to use your volunteers’ talents
Is there something that your organization could use some help doing? Is there a way to pair those things with one of your existing volunteers? If you get to know your volunteers and what they do outside of your organization, you may find out they’re able to help out in ways you hadn’t originally thought of. It can help to bring new energy to the volunteer’s work and to your organization.
Learn Something New
Experiment with new things. If you find something new like a training technique, a new way to help build connections between volunteers or a new technology for recording volunteer information, try it out. Learn as much as you can about it so you can share it with others, too. If you’re not sure where to start, check out a free class from HandsOn University.
Perhaps the most important tip for bringing new energy into your volunteer program is simply to do it. If you don’t try to make a change, things are going to be the same in your program. If you pay careful attention to what you’ve learned from a change in your program, you can build on that change, or try changing something else.
What interesting things have you done to breathe new life into your volunteer program? Let us know in the comments!