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10 Facts About Volunteering and Volunteers

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How do we attract and maintain volunteers? What are the benefits of volunteering? Who volunteers and why, what they need what they want from volunteering? Here’s ten facts about volunteering and volunteers that should help you grow your number of volunteers:

  1. Volunteers give without expecting anything in return yet they are rewarded in personal growth and development. What you give you get; goodwill is developed by giving away goodwill. - Talk about what makes the work meaningful, how you feel about being a volunteer and how it has enriched your life.
  2. Volunteers want specific, meaningful work with tangible results. - Track results and share them. Work with volunteers to set goals and tasks that most motivate them.
  3. Volunteers are most effective when they are trained and work within a strong  support network. -  Assess and improve training continuously, make opportunities for training as simple and as often as possible.
  4. Managing volunteers requires a different approach and set of skills than managing employees. - Understand what motivates and rewards volunteers and the limitations of your ability to redirect or correct their work. Be as flexible as possible with scheduling work.
  5. The evolution and development of a volunteer career reaches milestones similar to those of a professional career but in a much faster time frame. -  Gaining expertise, sharing it with others, accomplishment and advancement, eventual retirement are all milestones of professional and volunteer careers. Most volunteers will predictably progress through these milestones at a much faster rate than they will in their professional careers. Recognize these stages and provide the proper support and recognition as they are reached.
  6. Approximately 25% of U.S. citizens volunteer. - You will generally get three times as many ‘nos’ as ‘yeses’ when you ask people to volunteer.
  7. Around half of those who become volunteers do so because someone asked them; about half begin volunteering on their own initiative. - Continuously advertise and recruit volunteers – make sure your volunteer opportunities are very visible; people are looking for them.
  8. People with a higher level of education are more likely to become volunteers. - Don’t neglect anyone but redouble your efforts with college graduates and above.
  9. Individual volunteers annually serve 40 hours in their volunteer position on average. - Have realistic expectations for the number of volunteers you’ll need and the amount of time they can dedicate.
  10. Volunteers appreciate periodic, proportional and modest recognition for their work. - Track hours and length of service and recognize them. A note of thanks and some proportionate token of appreciation is appreciated and motivational. Some volunteers appreciate less formal and brief presentations rather than formal lengthy presentations.