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Lifelong learning for
a fairer Australia

Lifelong learning for
a fairer Australia

Tips and trends : Retaining volunteers


Volunteers are vital to the work we do. Recognising the work they do can make a big difference to how volunteers feel about their workplace. Here’s some tips on effective ways to show to show you appreciate the work of volunteers.

1. Make a good first impression

The induction process can have a big impact on how much a volunteer feels connected to and part of your organisation. Taking time to plan a welcoming induction is likely to get the relationship off to a good start.

2. Ask for feedback

Talk to volunteers about their concerns and suggestions. Tell them what you will do with the information and report back on any changes you make as a result. Incorporating their feedback into decision making demonstrates their views are respected and their ideas are valued.

3. Be inclusive

Include volunteers in staff meetings, workplace training, celebrations and events. Treat volunteers as part of the team and encourage them to participate in decisions.

4. Keep them in the loop

Make sure volunteers are kept up to date with happenings at your workplace – from staff changes, funding rounds, updates to programs or services.

5. Give them meaningful work

Make sure you know what volunteers want out of the experience and that you are continuing to provide it. Ensure their skills are matched to the role to keep them interested and engaged.

6. Offer professional development

Enabling people to ‘grow’ on the job helps people feel satisfied and valued. Provide opportunities for volunteers to take on extra responsibilities and a career path for volunteers who want to move between different roles. Strategies such as providing mentoring or helping with CV writing assist volunteers to develop their skills and feel more confident in taking on different roles.

7. Give feedback

Take note of how people are performing in their roles. Point out what they are doing well and offer constructive help to do their best.

8. Demonstrate impact

Point out how the work volunteers do contributes to the larger goals or achievements of the organisation.

9. Celebrate their achievements

Organise regular chances to recognise the work of individual volunteers as well as the entire team. Use the event to give awards and celebrate milestones.

10. Set up a recognition program

This is a way of orienting your organisation, your board and your staff to regularly and consistently recognise and promote the work of volunteer staff. Tailor your recognition to match the volunteer to make it most effective. For example, if a volunteer is hoping to find paid work as a result of their work with your organisation, they may value opportunities for further training or a written recommendation to potential employers. 

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Adult Learning Australia

Adult Learning Australia