Volunteers Drive Success

Since the Welcome Home Program started, Hopkins, Minn., Lodge No. 2221 has provided more than 370 veterans with Welcome Home Kits. And Last year alone, they received $20,000 in grant funding from the ENF.

How do they accomplish so much? Volunteers! Here, the Lodge shares its tips on how to get members involved in charitable projects.

Here are a few things to consider as you begin.

Getting Started

  • Build relationships with fellow members. Get to know them as individuals and build a friendship. They are more likely to volunteer and stay volunteering.
  • Be somebody that you would like to go volunteer with. Lead by example.
  • Practice good and open communication. Be clear about expectations and volunteer roles, i.e. when, why, how long, what to do etc.
  • Include volunteers in the decision making. Let them have freedom to do it their own way. Let go of some of the control. As long as it gets done, don’t sweat the details.
  • Have a program that resonates with people. For example, supporting our veterans really resonates with our members.
  • Share the story of the people you are helping. This lets people understand who and why they are volunteering, and why it is important.

Understanding people’s motivations will help you recruit volunteers.

Why do people volunteer?

  • Tradition and values
  • Builds connections and relationships with others
  • Feels good, lets people know they can make a difference
  • It gives people purpose
  • A good family activity
  • Helps kids / grandkids learn to give back

But first, you have to ask people to volunteer!

Mechanisms of asking for help:

  • Personal, face to face invitation
  • Social media / Facebook posts
  • Ads in the newsletter or weekly update
  • Posters or flyers at the Lodge

Different people may react to projects and invitations differently. Consider motivations, time constraints, preferences, etc.

Common Types of Volunteers:

Type Description Motivation
Passionate Very passionate for a cause/project, may have been personally impacted by it. Highly motivated already. May need to channel energies.
Do Gooder Wants to give back in some way to the Lodge or the community. Projects where it’s clear who they are helping will drive participation.
Socializer Loves to meet people, work with friends, and socialize. Projects requiring a group of people are a good fit.
Curious Explores different opportunities to find what fits. May not know what they want. Don’t be disappointed if it isn’t a good fit.
Feed the Ego Wants to be seen as participating and included in activities. Publishing photos in newsletters, email blasts and social media is important to satisfies this need.
Voluntold Needs direction – may have a spouse that volunteers. Find a small, discrete task that this person can do. Some people need / want strong direction.
Incentivized Needs an incentive. Provide some incentive whether it’s food, drink, etc.

Now, keep the momentum going.

How to Drive Member Participation:

  • Be specific. But also keep it simple.
  • Be honest about time commitment, responsibilities, expectations.
  • Differentiate organizers and helpers.
  • Focus on the volunteer experience.
  • Create a friendly, social environment.
  • Learn what energizes your volunteers.
  • Manage task completion vs. volunteer experience.
  • Structure as a family activity when possible to increase volunteer pool.
  • Welcome them to the event, and thank them at the end.
  • Ask for feedback aka what worked, what didn’t work, what did they learn.
  • Survey your volunteers regularly to ask for their suggestions and feedback.

Great! Now that you’ve got the volunteers, you’ll want to keep them. Here are some tips on volunteer retention.

How to Keep Volunteers:

  • Retention starts with a positive experience.
  • Be organized yet willing to adapt.
  • Be flexible. Break duties into shifts or smaller pieces.
  • Value the volunteer’s participation.
  • Set realistic expectations.
  • Ask them to participate again!

Author: Elks National Veterans Service Commission Blog

Elks' stories of serving our nation's veterans.

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