Once you’ve found the right volunteers, how do you keep them? Design your program with their motivations in mind. Skilled volunteers often prefer to

  • Work as part of a team.
  • Have input into decisions that affect the project.
  • Actively participate in the project throughout its duration.
  • Do challenging and rewarding work.
  • Continue learning and developing their skills.

Perhaps because they are comfortable in an office environment, professional-level volunteers do best when treated at the same level as staff, with a desk, business cards, meetings, evaluations, etc.  They also appreciate seeing measurements of their project’s impact. Frequent and open communication is a must, and access to training is a plus.

To gain long-lasting volunteers, organizations can personally invite people to volunteer and encourage them to become highly involved.

These volunteers have the highest retention rates:

  • Boomers who volunteer professional and managerial services (75%).
  • Those who volunteer the most (79% for those who volunteer 12 or more weeks a year).
  • Those who were asked to volunteer by the organization they are serving (71%).

For more insights, see Keeping Baby Boomers Volunteering: A Research Brief on Volunteer Retention and Turnover and additional resources below.

Retention Tips

Take these actions to make volunteers feel valued, to raise their profile in the eyes of staff, and to increase their effectiveness and satisfaction with the project:

  • Provide a thorough orientation and create a work plan.
  • Involve volunteers in program planning.
  • Communicate openly and often via email, phone and in-person check-ins. Brainstorm solutions together. Hold quarterly meetings to gain volunteers’ feedback.
  • Invite volunteers to staff meetings and events and professional development trainings.
  • Track volunteers’ time and make them accountable for their projects.
  • Show results; create evaluation reports so that volunteers can mark their own progress.
  • Ask volunteers to continue volunteering.


Next > Recognize Volunteers