Monday, January 5, 2015

8 Ways To Show You're NOT Appreciating Volunteers

If volunteers feel appreciated and feel like they are making a real difference, they'll continue volunteering for your charitable organization and will give their very best each day.  If you fail to show your volunteers that they are valued, you will lose them.

My little Angel Paws
Volunteers want to feel valued.  They want to feel like they've made a difference to those the charitable organization is there to help. I've compiled a list of things charitable organizations do that make volunteers feel very UN-appreciated.


* Start off on the wrong foot by making new volunteers spend LOTS of money for the privilege of volunteering their time!  Buying a t-shirt with your logo on it is just the tip of the iceberg.  Require a background check and make them pay for it themselves.  Then make them pay for a visit to their doctor to get several vaccinations that you require.  Have them make a "required donation" to cover the cost of any training and orientation materials you provide.  That way, if they want to volunteer for more than one organization they have to shell out hundreds of dollars to do so!

* Don't have a clear process.  Let your volunteers figure it out on their own - or not.  Fail to provide enough training, orientation, or a buddy system.


Isis at the library for the children's reading program
* Never respond in a timely fashion; let volunteers email, call and text you for a week before you get back to them.

* Tell them they'll be doing one thing as a volunteer, but when they start volunteering tell them you really need them to do something else.  Make them feel guilty if they don't want to do that task.  I once volunteered at a senior residence.  Volunteers would go back weekly to spend time with "your" senior.  Sounds lovely, right?  On the first day however, I was told that they needed me to visit as many seniors as possible each time.  I would look at the list and spend much of the time wandering around the 3 story building looking for each senior on the list.  Much of the time I could not find them in their rooms or in the common areas.  I would often find out that they were in physical therapy, at the hospital next door, or simply didn't remember signing up for a visit.   It was so frustrating, after 6 months I stopped volunteering there.

* Expect them to come in for extra shifts at a moment's notice and if they can't make it, be sure to make them feel really bad about it.  They're volunteers, what else do they have to do all day??

* Talk about all the Money you're saving by using volunteers!  Don't mention how many animals or people they've helped, that you appreciate the extra hours they volunteered during the holidays, or that you valued their help during a big event.  I once attended a "Volunteer Appreciation" lunch where the presenter spent thirty minutes talking about how much money they were saving in salaries by having volunteers.  No one cared about that!  We wanted to know what kind of impact we were making on the people we were helping not how much we helped their bottom line.


Isis during a visit to a nursing home
* Provide accolades to your paid staff in meetings, newsletters or on your web site but be sure not to mention the contributions of volunteers... not one word!  How do you think this would feel. Volunteers get invited to an event to celebrate all the pet adoptions that were made that year, many of which were made by volunteers.  Shelter leaders go on and on about all the great adoptions the staff made, but not one mention is made about how volunteers contributed to adoptions. 

* Create a Volunteer of the Month program to provide recognition for your volunteers but de-value the program by consistently naming the same person every single month as the "Volunteer of the Month".  Can you help it if the staff just loves that sweet kid who volunteers every day after school? 

All of these things have been experienced either by me or my fellow volunteers.  For those of you who manage or work with volunteers, keep in mind that volunteers need to feel like valued, respected members of the team.  If they don't, they will leave.  Volunteers aren't trying to take away anyone's job, nor are they bored housewives or rich people with nothing better to do.  They are hard working, passionate individuals who've made volunteering a part of their life's goals.  They've chosen to volunteer at your organization because they think it's something special. 

Show your volunteers the love they show your organization and those you serve!

What advice would you provide to help make volunteers feel appreciated?

THIS IS A MONDAY MISCHIEF BLOG HOP!!

20 comments:

  1. Great tips. Volunteers are so important!

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  2. Thank you! Yes, Vols are important and just want to feel valued. Thanks for stopping by today!

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  3. It's unfortunate, but I agree with you that many organizations don't do enough to make their volunteers feel appreciated. These are some great suggestions!

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    1. It's sad but true. Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. Volunteers are very important for sure
    Lily & Edward

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    1. Yes, very integral to the success of many non profits. Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. This is a fantastic post! Lots of volunteers work nearly as much as regular employees, even experiencing compassion fatigue or burnout. It's important that they are thanked and appreciated for the very hard work that they do. Sharing!

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    1. Thanks so much Chelsea, I really appreciate that! You're right, many volunteers work super hard and care just as much as staff! Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. Some good ones. Thank you goes a long way.

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    1. Absolutely, treating volunteers with the same respect as staff and a simple thanks, we appreciate you does go a very long way.

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  7. This is so true. Everyone wants to feel needed and appreciated.

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    1. Oh definitely! Volunteers don't work for money, they do it for the passion and because they want to HELP. They want to be needed and appreciated.

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  8. Awesome tips, this are things that all places that use volunteers should follow

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    1. Thank you Suzanne, I appreciate that! Thanks for stopping by!

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  9. It is so important to appreciate things in life, and volunteers do wonderful things for so many people. I think they deserve utmost respect and appreciation!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

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    1. I agree! Volunteers put their passion to work and should be treated respectfully and appreciated for their contributions.

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  10. It's great that as well as pointing out some negative issues you also share great, positive solutions.

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    1. Thanks, I did try to include positive aspects. I didn't want it to sound like a rant, but instead of a list of 8 things you can do to... I wanted to show it in a What NOT to do format for more Umph! Thanks for stopping by!

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  11. What great reminders! it is so important to be grateful for whatever help your volunteers are willing to offer. So many organizations have board members that are so overworked that they try to pawn off tasks on volunteers because they feel they have no alternative.

    Love the picture of your little Angel Paws! Too bad you can't upload images in a blog comment. I have the cutest picture of Indiana in butterfly wings but we don't have a halo. That would have been an adorable addition.

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    1. That's so true, I've seen the pawning off of tasks just because you can. Volunteers have a job to do as well, they're not dumping grounds. Valuing and respecting volunteers is so important if you want to keep them. So glad you like my picture of Isis, my little Angel. I made her halo out of silver pipe cleaners from the craft store. Sometimes they don't stay up so good LOL! Thanks for stopping by today Felissa!

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