The One-Two Punch to Tackle Volunteer Churn: Onboarding and Training!

Our CEO offers his insights on the biggest issue in the nonprofit sector: volunteer churn.

by Sarjoo Patel, MD | Founder and CEO, Flow

Hey there, non-profit world. Let’s sit down and have a heart-to-heart. We’ve got a problem on our hands, and it’s time we did something about it. It’s called volunteer churn. Yeah, we know, it hurts just to say it.

Now, you’re doing an amazing job making a difference. But all that hard work feels a little bit wasted when volunteers, who you spent time and resources recruiting, suddenly decide to call it quits. It’s like planning a party, blowing up all the balloons, and then having no guests to enjoy it. Bummer, right?

So, let’s dive in and see how we can foster a thriving and committed volunteer base. Here’s our plan of action: improving onboarding and ongoing training.

1. Build an Onboarding Program Worth Sticking Around For

First impressions matter. If your onboarding program is like a tour guide giving you a half-hearted walkthrough, chances are volunteers won’t be too excited.

Provide your volunteers with a clear understanding of your organization’s mission, values, and their role within it. It’s not just about giving them a job to do; it’s about fostering a sense of belonging.

According to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management, employees who undergo a well-structured onboarding program are 69% more likely to stay with the organization for at least 3 years.

2. Training: Set Volunteers up for Success

Once you’ve got them onboard, it’s time to give them the tools to succeed. This is where a great training program comes in.

By giving volunteers the necessary skills and knowledge, you’re setting them up for success. This increases their self-confidence, job satisfaction and in turn, their commitment to your cause.

3. Personal Touch is a Game-Changer

Don’t forget, volunteers aren’t a homogeneous group. They’re individuals with different interests and skills. Match volunteers with roles that align with their interests and passion for your cause.

Tailoring the onboarding and training journey can make each volunteer feel valued, and that’s great motivation to stay.

4. Listen to What Volunteers Have to Say

Feedback is invaluable. It enables us to identify gaps and room for improvement in our processes. Foster an environment where diverse perspectives are welcomed, and create opportunities for volunteers to share their ideas, concerns, and feedback. By encouraging open communication and acting on feedback, we can significantly reduce volunteer churn.

5️. Celebrate Their Wins and Encourage Growth

Recognition and praise are powerful motivators. By acknowledging volunteers’ efforts and celebrating their accomplishments, you boost their morale and enhance their likelihood to stick around.

When you see volunteers excelling in their roles, develop a framework that allows them to take on new responsibilities. Providing opportunities for personal and professional growth will empower your volunteers to contribute at a higher level and stay committed to your organization.

So, non-profit friends, let’s make the most of the amazing people who choose to support our cause. Let’s give them an onboarding and training experience that cultivates commitment and inspires them to stay with our organizations for the long haul. Here’s to a future with less volunteer churn and more high-fives all around!

About the Author

Sarjoo Patel, MD is a physician, social entrepreneur, husband, and father. As CEO and founder of multiple companies, including Flow, he seeks to solve healthcare inefficiencies, increase access, and reduce costs through the use of technology. Follow him on LinkedIn for more.