10 Surefire Ways to Prevent Volunteers from Burning Out

Volunteers are some of the most dedicated people out there. They give of their time to better the world and expect nothing in return. It can quickly become a problem when the heart-warming feeling that volunteers get from serving flickers into exhaustion and stress. Fortunately, there are steps you can take as a manager of volunteers to keep their fire for your cause burning strong.

  1. Be upfront about expectations. Even before a volunteer is on-boarded, clearly communicate position description, requirements, schedule, and level of flexibility. Being frank in the beginning helps eliminate the risk of surprises later.
  2. Create comradery. When possible, place volunteers on teams or with mentors. They’ll look forward to the relationships they develop with fellow volunteers or employees.
  3. Make recognition a routine. Get in the habit of recognizing volunteers on a regular basis, as well as at scheduled intervals. For example, plan an annual award ceremony or “thank you” barbeque, but don’t forget to surprise them with a heartfelt note or their favorite beverage from time to time.
  4. Allow position rotation. Give volunteers the opportunity to shift into other positions within the organization. Even if temporary, this gives them a fresh start and allows them to utilize a different set of skills.
  5. Don’t micromanage. Let volunteers “own” their role within the organization, giving them the freedom to give their input and make decisions.
  6. Check-in with volunteers regularly. Volunteers are so committed that they probably won’t be the first to speak up when something isn’t right. Touch base regularly to see how they are doing and if they are exhibiting any of the warning signs of burn-out—irritability, fatigue, depression, insomnia, and repeat illnesses.
  7. Reconnect to purpose. Let volunteers know the results of their impact, even with the minuscule tasks. If volunteers are stuffing envelopes for a fundraising mailer, tell them how much the organization expects to raise as a result of the fundraiser and remind them that it couldn’t go on without their help.
  8. Encourage time-off. Schedule “time-off” intervals between positions or seasonally and give volunteers regular holidays.
  9. Manage volunteer staffing. Having too few or too many volunteers on a project can cause frustration among volunteers. Determine the optimal amount of volunteers and work to keep staffing consistent with this number.
  10. Offer an outlet. Provide an opportunity for those volunteering in high-stress or high-emotion environments to debrief after their shift.

Offero saves you time and energy so that you can focus on the most important part of your job—the volunteers. Talk with an Offero expert to learn more by calling (970) 377-0077.

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