Increase productivity among volunteers

Respect your volunteers' time commitments.
Date Published

There’s no doubt that most nonprofit and religious broadcasters depend on volunteers to run smoothly. Whether the volunteers are helping out with promotional events or offering a hand in the studio, it’s important that they stay happy and engaged and realize their value in the organization. Since volunteers are most often unpaid, it can be difficult to foster productivity among them, especially when it comes to the less-than-glamorous jobs. Here are a few ways to keep your volunteers actively involved:

Pay attention to what volunteers are unhappy about
Everyone responds better to a transparent leader than to someone who tries to act like everything is peachy while volunteers are dropping like flies. Have a meeting with all of your volunteers to find out what they like and what they don’t about how things in the organization are running. You could even schedule individual one-on-ones with your volunteers to get a candid idea of their feelings about their position and responsibilities. Listen to their ideas and critiques, good and bad. This can not only make the organization a more enjoyable place for everyone to volunteer, but the volunteers may also have some great insight as to how to run things more efficiently. They’re the ones who are affected by how things are currently run. 

“Nobody wants to feel like their hard work is going unnoticed or unappreciated.”

Give volunteers an incentive
While you may not be able to pay your volunteers, there’s no reason that you shouldn’t offer some sort of incentive for giving their time to the organization. Whether it’s college credit, free lunches or some other sort of recognition, incentives can increase productivity, show your volunteers how much they mean to you and the organization, and improve morale. Even something as simple as a thank-you note can go a long way. Nobody wants to feel like their hard work is going unnoticed or unappreciated.

Communicate a time commitment
Don’t tell your volunteers that they can stay as long as they want or work until the event dies down. You don’t want to give your volunteers the impression that they can’t leave. Give everyone working for you a clear time commitment, like from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., so people know exactly what they’re getting into when they decide to work that event. You also need to implement a fair scheduling process to ensure that some volunteers aren’t stuck getting the short end of the stick while others always get good shifts or events.

It’s important to respect a volunteer’s time since they’re giving it to you for free. Don’t keep them longer than their time commitment, and don’t expect them to be able to drop everything for the organization. Understand that there will be times when a volunteer is simply too busy with other commitments to be able to give a lot of time to the organization and be supportive of that.

Take your volunteer's talents into account when assigning tasks.Take your volunteer’s talents into account when assigning tasks.

Take talents and interests into account
When it comes to volunteer work, most people want to feel as if they’re making a difference or developing professionally. While a lot of “grunt” work will automatically be placed on the shoulders of the volunteers, it’s important to still pay attention to each individual volunteer’s strengths. If a volunteer has a background in PR, why not allow him or her to do some marketing for the station? If another volunteer has experience in accounting, let him or her handle some financial tasks. Not only will this allow your volunteers to do things that actually interest them, but it also allows them to do some meaningful work for the organization.

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