Volunteers are the lifeblood of most local non-profit groups. You may have a terrific staff, but if you are like most groups, you will need more help than you can typically afford to pay in order to reach your potential and get everything done you want to accomplish.
Some organizations and causes never seem to run out of volunteer know-how and want-to. Others struggle to keep their volunteer force motivated and connected. Most groups fall somewhere in the middle. They may not be entirely certain what they are doing that their volunteers appreciate, but they certainly don’t know how to keep them motivated over the long term. Is there some sort of magic, or trick, or incentive?
Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5WPR and President of the Ronn Torossian Foundation, said the not-so-secret “secret” is in the communication. “What you say, when you say it and how you say it matter more than all the incentives in the world,” Torossian said.
But communication is not the ONLY answer, Torossian warns. The key to the triangle of what, when and how is the “when.” You MUST be consistent if you want your volunteers to stay connected.
Sure, a flashy and eye catching communication will GET their attention, but if you want to KEEP their attention, you have to hold their interest. And that means creating an expectation and then meeting that understanding.
This requires a set schedule and consistent follow through. Now, we’re not saying that if you are consistent your volunteers will “wait” for your work and hang on your every word. Simply that, in most cases online, there are three types of communication that can affect your volunteers: unwanted, expected, and anticipated.
Unwanted communication is the stuff that immediately gets spam foldered. Expected communication may not get read right this minute, but it WILL be read eventually. You want to be in the third category, anticipated communication. That will get read immediately, be appreciated, and be acted upon.
To reach that anticipated level, your content must be expected, but it must also be good enough to be worth sharing.