Keeping volunteers motivated

Ensuring volunteers are respected and engaged with the organisation is the best method to keep volunteers motivated and ensure they enjoy their work. Making sure volunteers are satisfied with their work is key to ensuring the longevity of volunteer involvement and the productiveness of the program.

Volunteer development

Volunteer development should be part of the ongoing management and support of volunteers. Volunteer coordinators should identify opportunities for development that are relevant and meaningful for volunteers. Volunteer development can be tied into a volunteer’s role or can be presented as an optional extra.

It is also a good idea for the volunteer program to offer opportunities for team development through team building exercises and social events (see our section on Rewarding and recognising volunteers for more ideas). If possible, you should budget for volunteer development and training.

Involvement and engagement

One of the many reasons that people volunteer is to meet new people, be part of an organisation and contribute to their community or society. It is important for paid staff and volunteers to be treated the same. Work together towards achieving the same goal to strengthen and develop their organisation. Below are some tips to help ensure that volunteers feel respected and paid staff understand why volunteers get involved:

  • Create a friendly working environment
  • Don't segregate volunteers and paid staff
  • Work with volunteers' potentials, interests and strengths
  • Provide opportunities for volunteers to gain extra responsibilities and autonomy
  • Ask volunteers for feedback and their opinion
  • Provide volunteers with choices and pathways

Reward and recognition

Volunteers are giving up their spare time to contribute to the organisation, so it is important for volunteers to be recognised, appreciated and valued for their efforts. Volunteers who don't feel their time is well spent are likely to lose motivation and take their valuable volunteer experience elsewhere.

Tools and resources