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How to Overcome Volunteer Decline

Volunteerism is in a decline, which for chapters can be debilitating. Chapter volunteers are the members that step up and make your chapter viable. Whether filling an officer position or a one-day obligation, without volunteers, chapter success is impossible. If your chapter is struggling to recruit volunteers, here are a few ways you can improve your outreach:

  1. Recognize that a volunteer opportunity is work experience. This is especially for long-term opportunities. Point out to potential volunteers that filling the role would be a great addition to a résumé and can be listed as work experience, especially if long-term, such as an officer position. Shorter or one-day opportunities may not be viable as work experience, but the association can be listed.
  2. Write a clear description of volunteer needs. Members need to know what to expect when they sign up. For a long-term role, detail the commitment length, the duties, and skills needed to fill the role. Same goes for short-term opportunities. You are essentially writing a job description, only it is for an unpaid role. It needs to be written clear and concise, while taking the volunteer needs into consideration along with your chapter’s needs.
  3. Advertise the volunteer needs widely. It is important to share the information with your members and beyond. One-day opportunities are especially great for bringing non-members into a chapter event and providing information about your chapter.
  4. Train volunteers.It is essential that your volunteers know what they are doing at an event. If a long-term role, such as an officer, be certain to follow standard training for the transition of your board. If a short-term or one-day event, provide on-site training before the event starts. At the very least, send out guidelines and detailed duties ahead of time. You can also have a webinar training session or training conference call ahead of time.
  5. Publish appreciation for volunteer assistance. No matter where you do this, share a heartfelt thank you to your volunteers. A great place is a list on the website or in the monthly newsletter. You can also send out a special email, especially if a large event. Share on social media. Advertising the thank you is just as important as advertising the call for volunteers. Not only does it show you truly appreciate the help received but it also lets people know that more opportunities are coming in the future.
  6. Evaluate the effectiveness of volunteers. It is important to examine how useful your volunteers were. Did you have too many? Not enough? Did they perform in the way you wanted them to? Conduct a survey with your volunteers and have a talk with those volunteers that could step up their participation. Volunteers are your chapter, so they should reflect your chapter’s mission and its values.

No matter what the event, volunteers can make or break the outcome. It isn’t just about getting the volunteers involved, but also making sure they do an excellent job and feel appreciated after. This will ensure a win-win situation for your chapter and its members.


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Improve Your Chapter's Volunteer Program

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