Supporting and retaining volunteers
Having created great inclusive volunteering roles and recruited to them, it is so important to ensure that your volunteers feel supported, appreciated and want to stay part of your community.
In this section there are practical steps you can take to help you support and retain your volunteers. On page 1 you can read about volunteer centred approach, volunteer induction and supervision. On page 2 you can find out how to retain volunteers and how to effectively communicate with them.
The importance of a volunteer centred approach
Volunteers can make a tremendous contribution towards supporting your project, activities, services, beneficiaries and making a difference within their communities. It is important to ensure that the wealth of activity volunteers bring is recognised and strengthened by valuing and supporting your volunteers.
Think about how you focus on your volunteer’s needs. Do you treat each volunteer as an individual? Do they have the appropriate support tailored to their needs to thrive in their volunteering role? It is essential to give volunteers an induction to settle them into their role and to provide appropriate on-going supervision. Consider what makes for a good volunteer experience. Have you asked your volunteers for their feedback to evaluate and review what their volunteering experience is like for them? Have you asked your volunteers if there is more you can do to support and retain them?
Volunteer induction and supervision
Make sure your volunteers feel supported from the very start with a clear induction process and pack, as well as knowing who is responsible for supervising them.
- Welcome letter
- Information about the organisation, organisational structure, vision, mission and values
- Information about GOGA
- Volunteer role description
- List of key contacts
- Information and contact details for the person accountable for the volunteer
- Health and safety information
- Code of Conduct
- Volunteer agreement (if applicable)
- Information about other policies and procedures and how to access them
- Feedback/complaints form and information about complaints procedure
- Expense claim form with an explanation on how to claim expenses and what expenses can be claimed (if applicable)
- Induction checklist
Supporting and supervising your volunteers
Ongoing support should be provided to your volunteers. A Volunteer Supervisor or key member of staff responsible for managing volunteers should ensure that all supervising staff are trained – whether formally or informally – to provide supervision support to volunteers.
Managing volunteers requires a distinct set of skills from those used in managing staff. Volunteers are not employees and so have different motivations for undertaking their volunteer role. Your management approach needs to reflect this. An essential task of volunteer management is finding ways to unlock the potential of volunteers and to harness their enthusiasms and talents – it’s interesting to note that volunteers are more successful within organisations when they identify with service users. Volunteer managers should understand this and make sure your aspirations match those of the volunteer.
Supervision sessions with volunteers should ideally be recorded and linked to aims and aspirations of each volunteer (which can be ascertained during the application process and recorded, including potentially as a Personal Progression Plan). Think about completing sign in sheets at each volunteering session and having templates for supervision sessions which link to the aims and objectives of the volunteer as well as their role and responsibilities.
In the Volunteer Programme resources section of the toolkit you can download some of the documents and templates mentioned in this section.
Link – Volunteer Programme Resources