Recruiting and Retention of Volunteers

Volunteers play a key role in the success of a non-profit organization, especially at the Martinsville Youth Development Center. Finding someone whose values align with your mission is a great way to further the impact of your organization. Retaining passionate volunteers can be essential to nonprofits to reduce operating costs and furthering your community impact.

Recruiting volunteers in your community can be challenging. Volunteering can be one of the hardest forms of donating, as time is extremely valuable. To begin, each organization needs to assess what their needs are and how a volunteer can fill those shoes. A few examples of a volunteer job may be program assistance, teaching a special skill or hobby, cleaning and organizing, marketing and promotion, or mentorship. Creating a job description for each need of your organization whether it is a long term or short term opportunity, will increase the likelihood to match someone with the skills to fulfill your organization’s needs.

Based on the availability or need, volunteers may want to volunteer on a long term or short term basis. Typically, a short term volunteer’s work is completed within 6 months or less. Short term volunteers may want to help with a specific event, assist with a portion of a program, or lend a helping hand for a one time need. A long term volunteer includes an ongoing schedule that may include daily, weekly, or monthly hours that surpasses 6 months.

As you begin your search for volunteers, having a strategic plan in place is important. A great way to recruit volunteers can include help from your board or employees, collaborating with local businesses, community outreach, local churches, reaching out to local schools, social media engagement, and sharing your organization’s mission with local community clubs. It is always a great idea to reach out to previous clients who were impacted by your services who may lend a helping hand.

Volunteer management is critical for your retention rate and future recruiting. It is much more than signing people up to volunteer. Individuals who volunteer want to know that their time is valued and being executed to be a benefit to the organization. At times, volunteers can be treated like employees, with to do lists, training, along with reviewing their impact towards your mission. Communication and recognizing your volunteers’ hard work will show them how much you value their efforts. It is important to set expectations and build a relationship with each volunteer.

Each organization’s volunteering opportunities are unique to their mission and needs, but the first step is to create a plan for recruitment and retention.

“Volunteers do not necessarily have the time, they just have the heart” -Elizabeth Andrew

My name is Shelby Burkett and I am the Executive Director for the Martinsville Youth Development Center for the past 7 years. I am extremely blessed to be able to work in the community that I grew up in. My first glimpse of poverty was in High School, when I found out a fellow peer was homeless. It impacted my personal mission to make a difference in the lives of others. Working with the at-risk youth in Martinsville is extremely rewarding and eye opening to see their daily struggles. Improving their mental and physical health along with helping them stay on track in school is my passion.


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