Volunteers are very valuable. So why not treat them that way?

Author: Jessica Schuyler

Stuffing envelopes, handing out water, walking around looking for lost children, manning a hot glue gun, writing numbers on people’s arms and doing coffee runs.

These are all some the unique tasks that I have completed in various volunteering roles over the last couple of years.

I have also volunteered in a greater way at many events that has led me to the passion that I have with bunch.

I’ve had some very positive meaningful volunteer experiences and some not so positive ones.

I started volunteering in my local community in high school and continue to do so.

I’ve volunteered at dance concerts, kid’s carnivals, school holiday programs, council events and family fun days, large mud obstacle runs and charity dinners all in varying roles and in the not-for-profit, profit, government and other organisations.

The good and bad experiences were ultimately linked to how engaged the organisation or company made me feel. If I walked onsite and felt as though I was actively contributing to the event or job, then I had a fantastic time and would put all of my energy into the task – no matter how meaningless the task would seem to others.

There would be other times where I felt like I was there just so a department could tick a box to say that they had volunteers from the community present, or because they couldn’t afford to have paid staff.

That isn’t what a company or organisation would want someone to walk away and think about their business. I do feel differently about their brand and wonder how they would actually treat their staff.

My advice for anyone that is looking to recruit volunteers or have volunteers as part of their team is to look after them and engage them as much as you do the rest of the team.

  • Give volunteers a branded shirt or vest – it makes them feel like they are visibly a part of the team.
  • Give them water and something to eat – nobody likes being hungry or dehydrated particularly if you are outside!
  • Give them adequate knowledge about the activity or task that’s happening overall, particularly if they’re representing you in the public eye because they are representing your brand. Make them feel confident enough to be able to answer questions, or direct them to someone who can.
  • Give them a choice about the activity or task they are doing – you’ll more likely get positive results if someone is involved in something they have an interest in or enjoy.
  • Thank them. Appreciate your volunteers and they’ll be more likely to come back and lend a hand again.

Most volunteers are participating in your cause, event or activity because they’re passionate.

So why not reward them for that and make sure that the experience they have with you is a positive one?

Most companies understand that they should make staff feel valued and connected within the organisation, which in turn strengthens the relationship and overall business performance.

So why not apply the same principles of engagement to volunteers?

At the end of the day, we’re all a part of the same team.

Have you got interesting ways that you have engaged your volunteers?

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