Volunteer Retention in US Hager and Brudney, 2004 Of the volunteers that worked with your organization one year ago, approximately what percentage would you say are still volunteering?
What percentage of volunteers that worked with you a year ago are still volunteering? A. 90+% B. 60-89% C. 30-59% D. 0-29%
Volunteer Retention in US Hager and Brudney, 2004 Of volunteers from one year before 17% of respondent organizations had 100% retention 3% of respondent organizations had 0% retention Median rate of retention: 80%
Retention is a lot more complex than wed like it to be…
Some comments about retention: Over time, volunteers move naturally in and out of volunteering
Volunteers in New Zealand Feeney, 2001 Volunteering with different organizations at different times of their lives, depending on their interests and family commitments, was seen to be a general pattern. People often started volunteering by becoming involved with their childrens activities, then moving to more formal roles within those organizations. Volunteers might work at several organizations at the same time but usually with varying levels of commitment.
Some comments about retention: Over time, volunteers move naturally in and out of volunteering Programs may have very different retention rates
Retention Rates 643 days (AIDS volunteers, Houston, 1993) 2.6 years (CASA program, 2001) 3.71 years (Community Literacy of Ontario, 1997) 4.5 years (Volunteer Ambulance Officers, Tasmania, 2001) 37% over 10 years (Meals on Wheels, New South Wales, 2003) 60% over 10 years (UK sports clubs, 2003)
Most Programs Have: Small cadre of long-term committed volunteers (10-20%) Revolving quick turnover pool (20-40%) Intermediate, still making up their mind, group sometimes involved, sometimes not
Some comments about retention: Over time, volunteers move naturally in and out of volunteering Programs may have very different retention rates High retention rates are not always a good thing
Its one small, fatal step from a dedicated, tightly organized team to a clique…
Basic Rules of Retention 1. Retention doesnt happen in a vacuum. 2. Dont waste the volunteers time. 3. Let volunteers do the work they want to do. 4. Thank volunteers for their efforts. 5. Dont automatically assume youve lost a volunteer.
Volunteer Ambulance Officers, Tasmania Fahey & Walker, 2001 74% of those who had resigned indicated they would consider re-joining if asked
Re-connecting: Come back all is forgiven. We miss you! Reunion party
Hobson & Malec, 1999 49.3% received offer of assistance 69.3% did not receive name of person answering phone 26.4% were not referred to appropriate contact person 48.7% were not asked for contact details in contact person not available 70% of those who left contact information did not receive a return call
Your biggest retention problem may occur before you even see a prospective volunteer. It may ensure that you never see them.
Key #1 Build a friendly, welcoming system Initial contact First days of work
Training Staff and Volunteers If anyone asks you about volunteering the first word out of your mouth should be… Great!
Volunteers are actually more likely than paid staff to give an impression that newcomers arent welcome. Usually this is unintentional.
Tips for Preparing Volunteers for Success 1. Reality-based training case studies, real experiences 2. Match expectation with reality show what a reasonable accomplishment would be 3. On-the-job training and assistance real, usable information on what to do 4. Supportive materials and adequate equipment 5. Support from co-workers and mentors
Effectiveness of Volunteer Mentors 4H, Florida, 1999 Drop-out rates for the three annual Master Gardener basic training programs prior to the Mentor program were 26%, 17% and 27% for years 1995, 1996 and 1997. The trainee drop-out rate for 1998 was 2% following the creation of a mentor effort.
Key #3 Work toward a long-term relationship 1. Create a sense of empowerment over shape of work 2. Make a true believer in mission of the organization 3. Encourage social bonding with staff and volunteers
Big Mistake If the only person in the organization the volunteer bonds with is the volunteer manager, what happens if the volunteer manager leaves the organization?
Summing It All Up: To keep volunteers involved you have to pay attention to them and you have to get to know them this takes time and care.
McCurleys Rule If you dont know who your volunteers are, why should they care who you are?