Recruiting volunteers is one thing – making sure that they continue to be interested in what you’re doing is another. That’s when many nonprofits struggle and start to lose their volunteers.

Here are 5 examples of how to quickly lose the support of even your most dedicated volunteers. It’s a cautionary tale…

by Isabel Wiliams – Original article on VolunteerMatch:

1. Lack of clear organization

Imagine you’re a volunteer: you’re giving up your time for a higher cause, only to discover that the staff of the organization lacks clear structure. Team members are late, tools are missing or incomplete, and people around you are uncertain about their actions and strategies.

For some people, a level of disorganization is acceptable. But you can be sure that your high-capacity volunteers will get quickly discouraged from participating in your activities, feeling that their time could be spent more productively somewhere else.

2. No concrete goals

If your vision, strategy and mission are unclear, you’re in for trouble. The ‘why’ behind your cause is what motivates volunteers to spend their time helping you achieve your mission – if you cannot provide the ideological basis for your actions, volunteers won’t feel the drive and passion to share your goals.

3. Failing to recognize their contribution

Volunteers help you without being paid for it, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t appreciate some form of recognition. If you fail to reward them and rarely ever recognize the passion and enthusiasm they bring to your cause, you’re bound to quickly lose their attention. Remember that being recognized is what ultimately motivates people to go the extra mile in their work.

4. No strong leadership

Without a clear structure and a strong leader, your organization is doomed. No volunteer will be willing to waste their time on a nonprofit that has no clear leadership – it simply suggests lack of coherent strategy. You organization should be divided into various departments and teams, each with a leader who sets the tone and inspires others to help your cause.

5. Lack of training or investment

Another vital mistake that can cost you a lot of helping hands is failure to provide training or lack of investment in your volunteers. Both training and investment show that you value your volunteers and their work, and are willing to help them develop new skills and qualifications they can later include in their resumes, perhaps opening up new career doors.

Keeping volunteers motivated and engaged isn’t easy – but the effort is well worth it. It’s only through smart management of your human resources that you’ll be able to make your voice heard and your cause recognized in your communities.