Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia

YOU, and Your Volunteer Committment

In Uncategorized on July 30, 2013 at 12:27 pm



At one of our promo events on the weekend I was extremely privileged to be working with an amazing group of volunteers.  They were enthusiastic, energetic, capable and willing to work.  It made the day so much more enjoyable.  As I stood around looking at the group and thinking about how lucky I am, it got me thinking about how I can get these people back to volunteer at more of my events.  So what makes a volunteer come back and what makes them stay away?  There are lots of articles and studies done on volunteering recruitment and retention, but I am thinking more about how we can make their experiences at the event more enjoyable.  Are we doing enough to provide them with a rich, fulfilling volunteer experience?

For these answers I reflect back to my own volunteer experiences.  I have had some wonderful moments working with people with whom I still remain in contact.  I have built relationships that have led to employment.  But I have also had times that were completely horrendous.

I learned a long time ago, that if YOU want to know how to be successful at something take examples from your life and emulate the positive; but it is just as important to learn from the negative; knowing what not to do. This may seem obvious to most people, but I can tell YOU, I have had experiences similar to this very recently and these are things YOU want to avoid.

1. Do not treat volunteers like your minions.  YOU will always need to ask volunteers to do things for YOU, but there is a right way and a wrong way to do so.  Be patient, not bossy.

 2. Do not take your volunteers for granted.  Don’t just plop them at a station and leave them there.  If YOU notice that a certain volunteer seems keen, eager, and capable, why not try to nurture that into something more?  Why not try to build a relationship with that person so that they feel invested in what they are doing as part of the team.  Talk to them about why they are volunteering and what they want to get out of the experience.  I can’t tell YOU how many times I showed up at an event, was shown my assignment and left there for the day.  I did not feel engaged, I did not feel part of something, I felt isolated and wanted to go home.

3. Do not talk down to your volunteers.  A study conducted by the Statistics Canada in 2010, it states that 58% of people with a university degree volunteer. That means that a lot of the people donating time to our causes are intelligent, capable people with their own set of specialized skills.

The truth is that without volunteer support we would struggle to survive.  Volunteers are a vital part of our success as a not-for-profit organization.  And while we are cognizant to thank them, are we doing enough to make their experience with us a positive one?  I had three volunteers remark on the weekend that this was the most fun they’ve ever had volunteering because it didn’t feel like doing chores.  Was that because of something I did, or did I just luck out being at a fun event?  I’m not sure, but it made me very aware that in future I will work hard to provide them with a similar experience.



  1. […] and Media Relations at the Society who shares our posts on social media every week chose YOU and your Volunteer Commitment  and the Marketing versus PR  post as two that stand out in her […]

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