Keep Volunteers Happy through Training and Engagement


It’s important to keep your nonprofit volunteers happy and engaged. Finding and securing volunteers

interested and ready to commit time to your nonprofit can be overwhelming. That’s why, once a

volunteer signs on, it’s vital to keep him interested, excited and motivated about this new volunteer

role. Keeping volunteers happy is key to your success.


guide to keeping volunteers happy


Similar to starting a new job, a volunteer is most intent and focused on the first day of volunteering. This

is the day, if not before, to make a good impression and show the volunteer what they’ll be doing and

why it’s important to the goals and mission of the organization.


Keeping Volunteers Happy: A Guide to Retention


Creating an open two-way communication is vital for a successful volunteer engagement with your

nonprofit. Volunteers give their time because of an interest in the work of the nonprofit and because

they want to feel helpful and needed and that their involvement makes a difference. It’s important to

build on these needs by showing appreciation of their time and sharing information about the

organization – the what, why and results of the nonprofit’s work and mission.


Planning a Volunteer Program

Prior to training volunteers, it’s important to identify and outline what the volunteer program is, the role

of volunteers and how you’ll manage their work and engagement with the organization. Once this is

defined and documented, a volunteer handbook can be developed. This handbook will support

volunteers through the process of joining the organization, delivering on the volunteer role, and possibly

helping to lead and train other volunteers who join.


Training Volunteers

The training of volunteers needs to be customized. This means it should be targeted to individual

volunteer types – full time or part-time and each functional role volunteers may fill – which can include

back office support, being out in the field or fundraising tasks and more. There is also a foundation part

of volunteer training that is standardized for all volunteers.


This includes two sections:


1. Basic information and knowledge of nonprofits such as: What is a nonprofit? How does it

function? What is the role of fundraising? And lastly, what are the ethical responsibilities of a

nonprofit and what is expected while representing one?


2. A general overview about your nonprofit. This is around the mission and values of the

organization, its program needs, goals and expected outcomes.


You can find more information and a specific outline on Developing Your Volunteer Program from



Ruth Kustoff is Principal and learning strategist of Knowledge Advantage. She supports nonprofits and

corporate clients alike in developing and improving employee engagement, productivity and

performance success through custom learning solutions and better information sharing across the