We can be guilty of assuming that volunteers don’t want all the responsibilities that come with looking after a retail store. Many charities are hesitant to offload tasks seen as boring or complicated onto their volunteers in fear of scaring them away. However, not giving volunteers any responsibilities can deter them too.
When surveyed, only 31% of people said that their charity makes them feel valued. There are seven in ten people who do not feel like their importance is recognised by the organisation to which they choose to donate their time. When we talk so frequently about how volunteers are fundamental to a functioning charity shop, it is surprising to hear that they feel so disconnected.
When speaking with volunteers, we found that their most common needs are to feel valued, trusted and listened to. Ensuring your volunteers know they are highly important and are contributing to the wider mission of your organisation is key to recruiting and retaining the volunteers you need for success.
Enhanced communication with your volunteers can help boost motivation. Telling them they are important, what their hard work goes on to achieve, and how they impact the end mission is a positive way to reinforce hard work. In order to make them feel listened to, there must be a two-way line of open communication. Volunteers offer a wealth of experience and knowledge and can deliver an abundance of good ideas to help increase funds, improve the charity and better the organisation as a whole.
There needs to be this communication for them to feel trusted too. To further develop trust, it’s a good idea to offer them the more difficult or important tasks. It’s easy to assume that they don’t want the responsibility or are not up to the job but by not asking them if so, you are making them feel like they’re not trusted enough to fully contribute to the cause.
While being listened to and trusted will contribute to making them feel valued, there are also other things you can do for your volunteers. Demonstrating that you are ready to invest in volunteers where you cannot offer wages can be an excellent motivator. Sending them on training courses means they have the chance to develop their own personal skills while also making them better at the job they do in-store.
In our blog post on the importance of collaboration, we outline many ways you can raise extra funds to pay for something like this. Partnering with businesses who will pay for training bursaries in return for a short ad in a monthly newsletter or a feature on your website is a fantastic way of sourcing funds. Alternatively, join hands with another charity and improve volunteering skills across the sector while sharing the costs!
Giving volunteers different skills than they already have is a great motivator for many and investing in them is a sure way to make them feel worthwhile. Young people just beginning their careers will likely want extra experience to boost their CV, while older people or those trying to get back into the working world will also be looking to learn something new.
Knowing you’re taking the time to invest in them and develop their skills beyond the charity will boost motivation and will allow volunteers to invest back into your organisation. Interacting and engaging with volunteers is a two-way street, so treating them as valued members of your team will result in reciprocal respect and hard work. Investing in your volunteers will allow them to invest in you and create a more skilled, friendlier and more profitable retail store.