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Retaining volunteer talent in your community


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Slides from #RetainAtSXSW panel March 10 2017

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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Retaining volunteer talent in your community

  1. 1. KATE BAUCHEREL @KateBaucherel DAVID J NEFF @daveiam VICTORIA TAYLOR @happysquid #RetainAtSXS
  2. 2. THE CHALLENGES OF VOLUNTEER RETENTION 1. People get involved in volunteering for many reasons, and their motives can change over time. How can you meet their needs and retain their skills? 2. How do you measure the impact of volunteers? Developing clear community goals, and activity and behavioral targets, can deliver measurable ROI. 3. Can volunteers see the bigger picture? How do you keep individuals engaged & motivated to move towards greater goals? @katebaucherel @daveiam @happysquid
  3. 3. ORIGINAL RESEARCH • Dr Jennifer Hagan ‘Sustainable Volunteering in Cultural Heritage Attractions’ • Established a disconnect between volunteers, the organisation, and eachother • Communication and culture failures led to volunteer disillusionment • Change of motivations rarely recognised, managed, or exploited • Came to the attention of the Ambix online community team. Could the application of Community Management disciplines reduce volunteer turnover? @katebaucherel @daveiam @happysquid
  4. 4. LATEST RESEARCH • Asked questions of 2 samples of volunteers and volunteer co-ordinators (Jan-Feb 2017) • Global reach: responses concentrated primarily in the UK with input from the USA, Australia, Ireland and France. • Disseminated online via Twitter and LinkedIn (snowball sampling), so actual distribution numbers are unknown. • 64 complete responses – 70% volunteers, 30% co- ordinators • Very positive feedback from professionals and academics who have participated in interviews and shared their own research on the topic to add to our@katebaucherel @daveiam @happysquid Location of All Respondents UK USA Ireland Australia France Volunteers Co- Ordinators
  5. 5. RANGE OF RESPONDING ORGANISATIONS Volunteer co-ordinators represented organisations of all sizes, from <20 to 10,000+, and teams of up to a thousand individual volunteers. @katebaucherel @daveiam @happysquid Number of volunteers in the organisation Direct responsibility for how many volunteers? 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% <20 20-50 50-100 100-500 500-1000 1000-2000 2000-5000 5000-10000 Over 10000 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% <20 20-50 50-100 100-500 500-1000 1000-2000 2000-5000 5000-10000 Over 10000
  6. 6. KEY FINDINGS • Motivations for volunteering do change over time, but even at the outset these are not always in line with the expectations of the organisation. • Co-ordinators can be hard on themselves! They perceive more problems than volunteers do with support, management and investment. • Not everyone plans for, or measures, the impact of volunteers and the return on investment in the volunteer cohort. • There are challenges with communication – a scattergun approach which does not help to cascade organisational culture or deliver consistent support. @katebaucherel @daveiam @happysquid
  7. 7. EXPLORING VOLUNTEER MOTIVATION – KATE BAUCHEREL • Volunteering starts at a young age, so there is an element of ‘career development’ throughout the volunteer journey. • Volunteer motivations change, but throughout there is a strong desire to support the cause: volunteers take their roles seriously. • Volunteers have the potential to play a significant role in the organisation – they deserve support on a par with staff. @katebaucherel @daveiam @happysquid
  8. 8. VOLUNTEERS START YOUNG 59% of respondents were under the age of 25 when they began volunteering. Most chose to volunteer to support a specific cause (54%), expand a pastime (43%), or gain experience (33%); our favourite reason, though, was ‘my mother made me’! @katebaucherel @daveiam @happysquid Age of first volunteering Age at time of survey 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% Under 18 18 to 24 25 to 34 35 to 44 45 to 54 55 to 64 65 to 74 75+ 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% Under 18 18 to 24 25 to 34 35 to 44 45 to 54 55 to 64 65 to 74 75+
  9. 9. VOLUNTEERS ARE DEDICATED We asked both groups about motivations for starting and continuing volunteering. The importance of social interaction, building experience, and comfort zones were overestimated by co-ordinators – support for a specific cause was the primary motivator in both cases by a clear margin. @katebaucherel @daveiam @happysquid 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% To support a specific cause To expand a personal interest or hobby To gain experience for personal development or career… To meet people with common interests As an alternative to work (eg due to retirement) Co-ordinators Volunteers Reasons for starting to volunteer 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% To support a specific cause To expand a personal interest or hobby To gain experience for personal development or career progression To meet people with common interests As an alternative to work (eg due to retirement) In a comfortable routine Social reasons - a good relationship with fellow volunteers Co-ordinators Volunteers Reasons for continuing to volunteer
  10. 10. VOLUNTEERS ARE RELIABLE We asked volunteer co-ordinators about the length of time their volunteers spend with them. In this sample, 69% retained their volunteers for more than two years. Of the sample, only 12% of respondents used volunteers in short-term projects. Volunteering is not a stop-gap: it’s a key element of business. But are volunteers well supported? @katebaucherel @daveiam @happysquid “We find it hard to retain volunteers long- term” “The organisation supports and manages the volunteer community well.” 0.00% 10.00% 20.00% 30.00% 40.00% 50.00% 60.00% 70.00% Strongly disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree 0.00% 10.00% 20.00% 30.00% 40.00% 50.00% Strongly disagree disagree Neutral Agree Strongly agree
  11. 11. VOLUNTEERS ARE PROFESSIONAL We asked volunteers the following questions: • I am satisfied that I have the opportunities to apply my talents and expertise : 90% Agreed • I am satisfied with the role-related training my organisation offers: 75% Agreed • I am inspired to meet my goals in my volunteer role: 74% Agreed • Volunteers treat each-other with respect: 92% Agreed • I am able to make decisions regarding my work: 82% Agreed Our sample of volunteers is generally professional, empowered and supported. @katebaucherel @daveiam @happysquid
  12. 12. MEETING CHANGING NEEDS – DAVID J. NEFF • Professional world – focus on staff retention because of acquisition cost • Volunteer world – acquisition cost not always quantified , are volunteers treated the same as staff & needs met? • Similar retention models are needed in the nonprofit world. What’s the process? • Churn of employees • Onboarding and continuous training • Culture changes • Part time vs Full time vs Contractors • Firing volunteers @katebaucherel @daveiam @happysquid
  13. 13. COMMUNICATION, COMMUNITY AND CULTURE – VICTORIA TAYLOR @katebaucherel @daveiam @happysquid We asked volunteers and co-ordinators to reveal the perceptions and reality of how volunteers source information from the organisation, and built a weighted average based on frequency of use. There are a lot of options available and in use - and a difference between the organisation’s perception of the most effective channels, and those which volunteers report as their best sources. Could an online community management approach enable nonprofits to do fewer thing better?
  14. 14. EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION? @katebaucherel @daveiam @happysquid 0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 Face to face, one to one with staff Face to face in the course of volunteer work Face to face, group meetings Newsletters - printed Newsletters - circulated online Email with staff Email with other volunteers Telephone with staff Telephone with other volunteers Facebook or other social media group - unofficial Facebook or other social media group - official Organisation's private online community Co-ordinators Volunteers
  15. 15. SUMMARY MOTIVATION AND RETENTION Communicating effectively with volunteers must be the first step in retention. Close the gap between perceived and actual motivation. PROFESSIONALISM AND MEASUREMENT Empower your volunteer community. Recognise and support professionalism. COMMUNICATION, COMMUNITY & CULTURE Do fewer thing better. Good volunteer management and community management practices @katebaucherel @daveiam @happysquid
  16. 16. YOUR QUESTIONS AND FEEDBACK…? Download the research paper ‘Retaining Volunteer Talent in Your Community’ from using code RetainAtSXSW for your free copy. Find the audio of this session on SXSW SoundCloud DON’T FORGET TO REVIEW THIS PANEL ON YOUR SXSW GO APP!