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Unlocking the Secrets of Building a Successful Volunteer Community


When done correctly, a thriving volunteer community can be one of the most powerful forces for good in the world. But what does it take to create and sustain such a community?

There are no easy answers, but we've boiled it down to 10 key principles. Whether you're just starting out or you're looking to take your community to the next level, these principles will help you unlock the secrets of building a successful volunteer community.

What Is the Purpose of a Successful Volunteer Community?

A successful volunteer community is one that is purposeful. What do we mean by this?

Simply put, a community that is successful in rallying volunteers successfully has a mission and sticks to it. Everything they do is focused on achieving this goal, from how they onboard new volunteers to how they engage them on an ongoing basis.

This doesn't mean that the community is rigid or inflexible; on the contrary, a successful volunteer community is always evolving and growing. But it does mean that the fundamental tenets of the community remain consistent, and that every action taken by the community is in service of the greater good.

Establish Clear Mission and Values

When you're starting a volunteer community, it's important to establish a clear mission and set of values. This will give your community a sense of purpose, and will help to attract like-minded individuals who share your goals and ideals.

Some things to keep in mind when setting your mission and values:

- Make sure they're relevant to your organization and the volunteers you hope to attract

- Keep them concise and easy to remember

- Make sure they're inspiring and motivating

- Make sure they reflect the culture and values of your organization

Communicate Effectively

When it comes to communication, make sure you're as clear as possible. This means using simple and direct language, and avoiding jargon. The last thing you want is for volunteers to feel confused or overwhelmed.

Another thing to keep in mind is that communication should be a two-way street. Your volunteers should feel comfortable coming to you with questions or suggestions. Don't be afraid to ask for feedback, either—it can help you improve your volunteer program and make it more effective.

Provide Meaningful Opportunities

As a leader, it is important to provide opportunities for volunteers that are both impactful and meaningful. Consider the skills and interests of your volunteers when developing projects and positions. By placing volunteers in roles that fit their skillsets, you can create a more engaged and empowered volunteer community.

Think beyond the traditional roles of volunteering, such as sorting donations or serving food. Volunteers can also provide professional skills, such as accounting or marketing. They can serve on committees or take on leadership positions. When developing opportunities, consider the time commitment required and be sure to give volunteers the option to choose what level of involvement they are comfortable with.

Whether it’s a one-time opportunity or a long-term commitment, every volunteer should feel like their time is valuable and that their efforts are making a difference.

Foster a Sense of Belonging and Inclusion

In order for your volunteer community to be successful, it’s important to foster a sense of belonging and inclusion.

This means creating an environment where everyone feels like they can be themselves and share their unique perspectives. It also means ensuring that everyone feels like they are a valuable part of the community and that their contributions are appreciated.

One way to foster a sense of belonging and inclusion is to create opportunities for social interaction and connection. This can be done by hosting community events, starting conversations on social media, or simply providing opportunities for people to interact with each other on a regular basis.

Another way to foster a sense of belonging and inclusion is to make sure that everyone feels like they have a voice in the community. This can be done by soliciting feedback regularly, encouraging people to share their ideas, and making sure that all voices are heard and respected.

Promote Recognition and Rewards

Recognizing and rewarding volunteers is important to keeping them engaged. According to a report by the Corporation for National and Community Service, volunteers who receive formal recognition are 70% more likely to continue volunteering and are also more likely to recruit other volunteers.

There are lots of different ways to show appreciation for your volunteers. You could send them personalized thank-you notes, give them discounts on products or services, or invite them to exclusive events. You could also give them a shout-out on social media or in your newsletter.

Whatever you do, make sure it's something that will meaningfully resonate with your volunteers. A little bit of thoughtfulness goes a long way!

Nurture Leadership Development

One of the keys to building a successful volunteer community is nurturing leadership development. You want to create an environment where people feel like they can step up and take on leadership roles.

There are a few ways you can do this:

- Offer training and development opportunities. This could be anything from online courses to in-person workshops.

- Encourage people to take on leadership roles. This could be as simple as asking people to lead a project or be a point of contact for a certain task.

- Offer mentorship programs. Pair up experienced volunteers with newer ones so they can learn from each other.

Leadership development is important because it helps build capacity within your volunteer community. When you have strong leaders, they can help recruit and train new volunteers, and keep things running smoothly.

Engage Stakeholders in Decision Making

Giving your stakeholders a say in how things are run not only gets buy-in from everyone involved, but also helps to build a sense of ownership and responsibility for the success of the community.

When making decisions about the direction of the community, be sure to involve as many people as possible in the process. This could include hosting focus groups or surveys, or simply holding open forums where people can share their ideas.

The more that people feel like they have a vested interest in the community, the more likely they are to be engaged and invested in its success.

Leverage Technology to Increase Engagement

Leveraging technology is a great way to increase engagement in your volunteer community. There are a lot of great tools out there that can help you connect with volunteers and make it easy for them to get involved.

One tool that I love is VolunteerMatch. This website helps you find volunteers for your cause in your area. It's a great way to get the word out about your community and make it easy for people to get involved.

Another great tool is Facebook groups. This is a great way to connect with people who are interested in your cause and engage with them on a regular basis.

Technology can be a great asset in building a successful volunteer community. Leverage it to your advantage and use it to engage with volunteers on a deeper level.

Measure Success and Impact

As the saying goes, “what gets measured gets managed.” And this is true of volunteerism, too. To ensure that your volunteer community is having the greatest impact possible, you need to measure both quantity and quality.

Some things to consider measuring include:

- The number of people who register to volunteer

- The number of people who actually show up to volunteer

- The number of hours volunteers work

- The number of people who complete a project

- The satisfaction level of volunteers

But it’s not just about numbers—you also need to measure impact. This could mean surveying the people you helped, looking at before-and-after photos, or conducting a case study. By measuring both quantity and quality, you’ll get a well-rounded picture of how successful your volunteer community is and where there’s room for improvement.


So, if you're looking to build your own thriving volunteer community, make sure you keep the following advice in mind. First and foremost, it's important to create a community that people will want to be a part of. This means fostering a positive, welcoming environment, and providing members with plenty of opportunities to get involved.

Secondly, it's essential to have a clear and concise vision for your community, and to make sure that everyone involved is aware of it. Finally, be sure to provide your members with the tools and resources they need to be successful. With these keys in mind, you're sure to build a thriving volunteer community that everyone will be proud to be a part of.


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