Pave the Second Lane For Your Volunteers

This week’s post is dedicated to Carin Starr, Volunteer Maryland Coordinator for the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy.  Yesterday, Carin led her first Volunteer Roundtable in Easton.  Like you, I was interested in learning what a “volunteer roundtable” is.  I was lucky enough to be invited to the Roundtable and interact with the volunteers present.

To start things off Carin shared the quantitative volunteer information for the year, including the number of hours they have collectively served, the dollar value of their hours, how much land has been monitored, and how many new event programs have been led by volunteers.  This was a great way to open the event because the volunteers were able to see their contributions and receive public recognition for what they have achieved.  Following the “numbers” presentation, Carin shared the departments currently using volunteers, and discussed the new ways the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) would like to engage more volunteers.  As an observer, it was easy to see the passion each of the volunteers had for the ESLC because their eyes lit up at the new opportunities that may be available.  No one was hesitant.  Instead they wanted to learn more about how they could be of use for the organization.  It seemed as though the volunteers were interested in everything.  Or were they?

Like most of us, Carin paved the way for her to communicate her thoughts with the volunteers.  Now it was time for her to pave a second lane for the volunteers to communicate their thoughts with her.  How do you do that?  Well Carin kept it very simple, she asked “What are your interests?”  It is almost routine to ask this question during the screening of a potential volunteer, but Carin showed that this should be a recurrent question even after a volunteer has signed up with an organization.  Communication moved in more than one direction, leaving everyone with an optimistic and even more committed attitude.  Bravo, Carin!

Have you created two-way communication with your volunteers?  What better way to retain volunteers than to hear what they have to say?  Give it a try, if you haven’t already.  Other suggestions besides hosting a Volunteer Roundtable? we’d love to hear them!

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