The most common rule is “communicate often”, but if you aren’t getting the responses you want from your volunteers, take a critical look at what you are writing. Communicating more often might be counter-productive if you are not clearly articulating your message.
~ Implement strict email communication rules. Choose one or two people who will write and send email.
~ Don’t overload volunteers with emails – they’ll stop reading and miss important information. Limit emails to one or two per week in your busiest time.
~ Make an email interval plan – send out a one email 4 weeks, 2 weeks, 1 week and a few days before the event. Writing them (and scheduling them) ahead of time gives you one less thing to do in crunch time.
Keep Them in the Know
Volunteers want to feel like part of something. When they get regular updates they are likely to feel a greater emotional connection to the organization. Sending communications that lets volunteers “know what you know” tells them they are important.
Stay in Touch
When you have a large gap between events consider alternative communication mechanisms. Consider volunteer newsletters to help volunteers stay current with your organization, even when you don’t have any events happening. This keeps contact fresh and reminds volunteers that you are thinking about them and value your ongoing relationship.
Prepare for Those Who Won’t Read
Some volunteers won’t read communications regardless of how well written they are. Prepare by recruiting a few extra volunteers for each shift in case there are no shows. While some volunteers don’t read, skim or don’t follow instructions, it is still important to clearly communicate information. The majority will read and follow the directions.
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