The biggest issue any leader fears dealing with is the meeting where burn out is the reason for a volunteer stepping down.
This raises the subsequent question, “How do we keep volunteers healthy and from burning out?”
Before we address the question, get this big idea in your head –
It is better to keep a long-term volunteer than recruit a new one to replace them.
Keeping the previous statement in mind will help with the following observations.
1 | Compound Investment
Albert Einstein once said, “Compound interest is the 8th wonder of the world.” Leaders should utilize compound interest (or what I call “compound investment”) as they invest in their volunteers. Invest as much time in your volunteers as you can, instead of investing all you time in other endeavors.
It takes less time to invest in a long-term volunteer than to recruit, get to know, and train a new one.
Yes, we need to find and train new volunteers, but that should also be done by long-term volunteers who feel so invested they want to make the team better.
2 | Personal Investment
Volunteers are often people with connections, interests, friends, families, and more. Let them know you know about their life, their interests, and their families.
Send them a thank you note written with your hand. Put a stamp on it and send it old school.
Also make every effort to make the praise specific and personal. An honest thank you in your own hand is greater than a half-thought through praise through text, email, or in front of a crowd .
3 | Fruitful Investment
Think of this in terms of three F’s – Fun, Fruitful, and Fulfilled.
First, always look for ways to make serving FUN. Work hard and play hard. I have said it before and I will say it over and over till I see it lived out more often.Here is an idea, have a meet up rally before the serving event, and instead of just doling out boring info, make it a game and make it memorable. When your volunteers are excited it will catch fire in the larger crowds.
Then try and make each volunteer feel like their efforts are leading to FRUITFUL growth in their life. Your roll as a leader is to make sure they have the training and equipment to be fruitful. Fruitful volunteers grow other fruitful volunteers. They spread their healthy vines all around and show others that being part of the team leads to healthy and fruit-bearing service!
Finally, point out when the mission or vision is accomplished or gaining momentum, which in turn, allows them to see they are doing something worthwhile and thus feel FULFILLED.
What is greater than having a blast, seeing growth, and feeling that what you are doing makes a difference in the world? Nothing I have encountered yet. If it makes me as a leader feel fantastic, than I know it’s impact on those I lead and serve alongside of will feel the same.
Share as many stories as possible, especially personalized ones. Send as many cards as needed. Make sure to highlight life change and mission accomplishment. Never waste a moment that can be utilized to celebrate! When all three – fun, fruitful, and fulfilled – are being utilized in celebrating and serving, you will be hard pressed to see your volunteer burn out.
To wrap this post up, know this, hard does not always equate to burn out. People can do hard things and love what they do. Volunteers burn out when all three of our main points are missing regularly.
Therefore, implement these as often and as widespread as you can. Try it out for six months as a focus and I can assure you things in your volunteer organization will be looking up!