Safeguarding Your Volunteers Against Burnout

by Danielle Bloom

2 min read

Volunteers play a critical role in your nonprofit organization. They allow you to keep costs low, communicate your cause, and benefit from their knowledge and expertise. You want steps in place to make sure your volunteers feel appreciated and don’t suffer occupational burnout. Content volunteers remain active and help your nonprofit achieve its vision.

Let Volunteers Know What to Expect

When you recruit new volunteers, provide a realistic expectation of how much time your nonprofit organization needs them to give. Let’s say you hold many fundraising events during the year and need your volunteers to work one weekend a month; let them know before they join so they can determine if they have the time to assist. Make sure volunteers know if your nonprofit needs them to attend meetings and join committees. Your volunteers are less likely to suffer burnout if your nonprofit’s work requirements fit into their schedule.

Express Gratitude

You can help your volunteers avoid burnout by showing your appreciation for their contributions. You want to regularly thank them for giving up their time and show how their efforts are making a positive impact at your nonprofit organization. For instance, if your charity helps provide clean water in developing countries, you could discuss how volunteer work has reduced the spread of disease. If you have millennial volunteers, think about posting a video to social media that shows them helping at one of your fundraising events; this provides recognition they can share with their friends and spreads the word about your nonprofit’s cause.

Strategic Staffing

Volunteers may experience burnout if your nonprofit does not have enough staff to handle the workload. Before recruiting volunteers, you want to determine your needs. Ask yourself, what type of work needs doing, how long does the work take, and what skills are required? If your nonprofit does a lot of work with 10 different organizations, you may need to allocate a separate volunteer for each company to spread the job responsibilities. Strategically analyzing your nonprofit’s staffing requirements helps you find the right number of volunteers to keep them feeling engaged but not overworked.

Make Volunteer Positions Meaningful

Burnout is less likely if your volunteers feel they are making a meaningful difference for your nonprofit organization. Try to avoid overloading them with menial tasks, such as filing, photocopying, and sorting mail. You want to provide work that makes your volunteers feel part of your mission. Let’s say your nonprofit supports breast cancer research; you could ask them to organize fundraising events and find donors. Consider inviting your key volunteers to board meetings, and ask for their insight and perspective to make them feel valued. Volunteers who feel they are making a significant contribution often become lifetime supporters of your nonprofit organization. Your nonprofit organization can get more done and successfully achieve its mission by using volunteers who are passionate about their work. Make sure you keep your volunteers engaged and feeling valued to safeguard them against burnout.

References & Resources

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