Nonprofit organizations all know the tremendous value of their volunteers. They are often the key to delivering your mission, and generating fundraising programs and dollars.  But did you know that you can more than double your donations based on how you organize and manage your volunteers? By organizing volunteers into groups, and creating titles and responsibilities for volunteer team leaders, you can motivate them to feel more valued, put in more time and generate more fundraising dollars. But don’t rush in too quickly, it takes planning to assemble good teams that will deliver help and campaigns effectively.  It is also very important to think about what really drives them to volunteer in the first place.

What Motivates Volunteers?

We have to consider what really motivates our volunteers to give their time.  And it’s not all about you or your mission!

  1. Social Interaction – Yes this is a huge driver in many who don’t get out much.  Making a friend or being part of a group with a common purpose is a huge bonding experience.
  2. Building A Resume – Volunteering is a great way for younger students to groom their resumes for future jobs.  It can also be a great way for those switching careers to “test the waters” in a new area with low risk.
  3. Feeling Needed – Volunteering is a great reason to get out of bed in the morning, and gives people purpose and a feeling of self-worth.
  4. Giving Back to Society – Altruism fueled by empathy of others is a strong emotion that drives many people to spend their time volunteering.  It is also a great method to heal after a loss of a loved one.
  5. Personal Development – Volunteers who demonstrate good people skills, drive, commitment and attention to detail are the best candidates for becoming team leaders.  And giving them this “Team Leader” title will further motivate them to take on more responsibility and tasks, which is a win-win for them and your organization! They also want to develop themselves as people and maybe even leaders since this can be highly rewarding.

QUICK FACT: Did you know that volunteers given twice as much money as typical donors?  Often the case is that if they can’t give their time for a specific task, they will then donate money or resources instead.

3 Things That Make Volunteer Teams Work

Just throwing together volunteer teams together can present issues if not well thought out first.  It is important to choose teams that will get along, are maybe a variety or a mix of ages and genders so that learning can take place across them.  Remember too than many are looking for developing new friends and social interactions from volunteering, so asking first who they would like to work with is another approach to ensure good team chemistry. Also ask them what they are looking to get out of their volunteering experience so that you can more tailor tasks to help meet their personal needs.

Here are three elements that can help drive the success of your volunteer teams;

  • Interdependent Teams – Where the success of the group is dependent on the collective efforts of team members—tended to be more committed and give more time to the organization.
  • Time Commitments – Teams where time commitment was evenly dispersed were more committed. “If you had a situation where one person was giving 200 hours a month and another was giving two hours a month, that team as a whole would actually give less time than a team where everybody was giving maybe 15 hours a month,” said Baggetta.
  • Doers vs Talkers – More time in meetings meant less committed volunteer leaders. “If a team spent substantial proportions of their collective time in meetings, generally speaking, individual members of that team would give less time overall.”

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