Volunteers work tirelessly for charitable and civic causes. In some cases, such as in hospitals, volunteers tend to duties that help make hospital stays less stressful for patients and staff. These are candy stripers, social outreach volunteers and those who man hospital gift shops.

teen volunteers cleaning up the street

Types of Volunteers

Individuals who volunteer for charity work are a diverse lot of people. They generally feel the need to contribute time, money, ideas, and energy to worthy causes. These causes may be those suffering long-term illness, the needy, homeless, abused women and children, or animal shelters.

Fund Raising and Canvassing for Donations

The most strenuous type of volunteer work may be canvassing for donations to charity or civic causes. Canvassing for donations requires a comprehensive plan of action and scheduling of volunteers.

Local libraries, community theaters, art galleries and museums are always in need of a core group of dedicated volunteers. That’s how to raise funds and canvass for donors within a state or local region. This is usually supported by outreach programs for the public. These establish organization identity. Furthermore, they engender enthusiasm for membership as volunteers and/or donors to organizations’ main causes.

Retaining Volunteers

The profile of the average volunteer is an individual whose interests are based upon “giving back.” That’s to their community. Their peers, or to the world in general. In order to show volunteer appreciation, it is important to know the basic profile of each organization’s volunteers.

It may be surprising that those who have the least free time always manage to “make time” to volunteer for worthy causes. For those seeking volunteers, these are usually individuals willing to extend themselves beyond the normal limits of volunteerism.

Retaining valuable volunteers is always a problem in the largest organizations like Lion’s Club, Elks Club, Rotary, and United Way. However over generations, these organizations manage to retain loyal volunteers.

One reason for the decline in volunteerism is often due to economic austerity. Retaining volunteers becomes more difficult when money is tight. This is due to employment obligations, less free time and/or money and donations. There are several things that retain volunteers under the most austere economic circumstances:

  • Continued emphasis on the dedication to the cause or charity.
  • Creating a broad range of volunteer activities that fit volunteers’ time and lifestyles.
  • Continuous displays of volunteer appreciation.

volunteers packing products for the needy

Emphasis on Dedication to Causes or Charities

An overview of the largest corps of volunteers in the U.S., United Way, had some interesting results. It shows that the organization continuously provides strong emphasis on dedication to their particular charitable causes. This is done by showing volunteers how their work manifests into real changes in people’s lives.

When volunteers see how their work fits into the total picture, it helps greatly. Not only does this strengthen their dedication, it also attracts potential volunteers who want to enjoy the same feelings of generosity and accomplishment.

Creating a Broader Range of Volunteer Activities

Leaders of organizations all know volunteers are not identical. Thus, busy soccer moms who enjoy working as volunteers at the local soccer refreshment stand may want to take part in a worthwhile charity or civic volunteer activity, even though time is limited.

It is up to the organization leaders to create a broad range of volunteer activities that fit volunteers’ time and lifestyles. Volunteers from the business community can be an extraordinarily beneficial asset to an organization. Their time is usually limited and their lifestyles are relegated to their business operations.

Doctors, nurses and other types of professionals can still be active in volunteer projects. These professionals can be volunteers for short term projects like fund raising dinners and other public programs. It is essential to keep all volunteers actively involved, even on a limited basis.

Volunteer Appreciation

Although volunteers derive a deep sense of accomplishment from their volunteerism, they should always receive some semblance of appreciation. You can make volunteer appreciation to inspire competition among volunteers. Volunteer appreciation is how to show them you really care about their efforts and their generosity of time, work or money. Turn fund raising into an opportunity to create volunteer competition by offering a special reward for volunteers who raise the largest amount of donations or donated the most hours.

Ways to Show Volunteer Appreciation

If individuals volunteer time in a library, museum or community theater, offer a special “recognition program” attended by the public. There you can present volunteer appreciation certificates or trophies for volunteers who were there the most time. Don’t forget to include special volunteer appreciation awards to leaders of event, program and special fund raising campaigns. Leadership awards can be part of volunteer appreciation to show you really care about their leadership skills and efforts and to motivate other volunteers.

Conclusion – Reviving the Volunteer Spirit

If there is a single clue to why individuals usually volunteer, it is their need to interact with like-minded volunteers. Today, with much of the world gone hi tech and the obsession with texting and mobile communication, volunteering has taken a totally different direction.

In fact, technology may play a very important role in the type of volunteers of tomorrow. Using technology for fund raising, creating awareness of civic and charitable causes and attracting volunteers may not be as difficult as it appears.

volunteers sorting through donations

Think about how social media works and how it has already created “friends” on various websites. Those friends can become valuable volunteers from across a wider regional spectrum. Instead of prospecting for local volunteers, social media volunteers can create small enclaves of their own in numerous local areas of the country.

With a core group of leaders for civic or charity causes, a more expansive level of interlaced volunteering is born. For example, museum volunteers might link to other museum volunteers across the country to create a larger base that attracts prospective volunteers to work within local communities and use their social media circle as a clearinghouse for a broad exchange of ideas for programs, events and fund raising. Then when it is time to show volunteer appreciation to show them you really care, the larger social media volunteer group has an opportunity to emphasize volunteer appreciation on a national basis with national publicity.

All images taken from depositphotos.com.