Your passion moves people to serve, grow, and take risks. As people begin reflecting your passion, it can be easy to forget to appreciate them. Instead, your focus shifts on to the next person, task, and challenge. Your volunteers need to hear that you love their passion, and value their role in your community.
Below are 5 Things that your Volunteers Need to Hear
1 – “You play an important role”
Every task someone is doing should be important and on mission. As a leader you know how their work ties into the bigger picture, but they may not always understand. Your volunteers need to hear how it is connected and remind them of it. Feeling as though you are just filling a gap can foster feelings of resentment. To you it may feel annoyingly obvious, but say it anyway. It tells them more than the obvious. (“Thanks for filling bags of food for kids to take home, our whole purpose for being is to ensure these kids have food to bring home. We couldn’t do it without you”
By expressing your gratitude for the important role they play you also communicate value for them as people, and for their place within your community.
2 – “I appreciate what you do”
We know that you could likely do most the things your volunteers are doing, and have in the past. The hands on help is not likely complex: welcoming visitors, leading groups, bagging/grilling food, or picking up trash for example. Yet your volunteers make it possible. Without them your community would crumble, because one person cannot do everything. Your passion cannot make food, welcome guests, teach, and pick up trash at the same time. Expressing appreciation is key to remembering you value your volunteers, and to letting them know you value them as well.
3 – “Your passion helps keep me going”
Leading a community of people on mission is exhausting, taxing, and draining. It is also immensely rewarding, and we wouldn’t give it up for anything. Yet there is something uniquely energizing when we see volunteers giving it their all with us. There is probably a combination of seeing someone loving what they are serving, and a bit of the surreal realizing that they are following us into the unknown.
It is so rewarding and humbling to be told by leadership that you inspire them. After all it was likely your passion for the mission that got them involved in the first place.
4 – “Who you are matters to us”
People are more than what they do. The first three items on this list were outcome oriented. If we never focus on our volunteers as people, we risk losing them as their roles change. Our communities must be focused on the people who enable, empower, and propel the mission. By valuing them as people above what they can do for us creates advocates and loyalty.
This act can also remind us that these individuals shaking hands, entering data, making phone calls, and helping are more than the role they fill. These people are with us as we embark on the audacious task of making the world a better place.
5 – You’re a Part of our Story
Take a minute to think about the story you tell about your community and what you do. When was the last time you shared this story with your volunteers? Was it the last time they served? It should be.
Your volunteers need to hear this story! Ideally you should be sharing this story every time you have volunteers working. Take a moment before you share to make it contextual for them. Point out how the work they are about to do is directly related to your mission. Remember that the story you tell about your mission becomes just as important as the mission itself for your volunteers. Share it every time. Some will tire of hearing it, but it ensures that everyone knows what you are all working towards.