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After participating in the first few field experiences as a volunteer, the enthusiasm and the novelty effect tend to fade quite quickly. It is becoming more and more difficult for associations to find volunteers who stay committed for the long term. 

How can you succeed in keeping your volunteers loyal, maintaining their motivation at the highest level, and above all, encouraging them to double their efforts? 

Give them the sense that they are part of a mission! 

The work of a volunteer is not a one-time event but is part of a process that is in line with the vision of the association to which he or she has committed. Each volunteer is an extension of the association they represent, and they must be made aware of this. 

Therefore, we advise the following: 

  • Divide the volunteers into groups, with a leader, often the most diligent or senior member, in charge of each group. 
  • Communicate transparently with the volunteers before, during and after each activity. This will strengthen their sense of belonging. 
  • Thank volunteers via a message, online (email or social media) and even verbally. Praise them in front of their peers. 
  • Small efforts have a huge return on investment, including a tenfold increase in commitment. 

Innovate in task allocation 

Let’s say, for example, that you organize beach clean-ups. You can be sure that after a few weekends, most of your volunteers will be tired of picking up cigarette butts and empty plastic bottles. Thus, make sure to vary the type of action, or at least assign your volunteers different tasks each time if possible. 

Set up a rotation system where several teams exchange roles every hour to avoid monotony. Also, break down large assignments into smaller, customized tasks to differentiate the work for each person. No one likes to feel like a worker on an assembly line. Finally, push some volunteers out of their comfort zone to develop new skills. Don't be afraid to challenge them, they are usually much more willing to adapt to unexpected situations than you think. 

Establish a hand-off system 

A volunteer new to the field is usually intimidated by everything around them, such as the people they don't know, the assignment they've just been given, and the responsibility they suddenly have. It is always advisable to dedicate a few slightly more experienced volunteers to welcome newcomers, explain what they have to do, and especially, reassure them. 

This work of transmitting knowledge is triply beneficial. Inexperienced volunteers quickly see their doubts and fears disappear, while the experienced volunteers are empowered, boosting their confidence and sense of belonging. Finally, the association projects the image of an organization that actively participates in the personal development of its volunteers. 

The most important thing to remember is that the satisfaction of your volunteers, as well as of your beneficiaries, is your main concern! Take care of your volunteers, express your gratitude for what they do, and they will remain loyal to you. 

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