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Ideas on Effective Communication with Volunteers

Posted By Murphy Pickett, Friday, June 9, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Ideas on Effective Communication with Volunteers

By; Jess Myers

In many of the most-respected associations and organizations, dedicated and talented volunteers are the underlying reason for that success. It’s their passion for the association that drives things like membership increases, fiscal health and well-attended conferences.
As an association leader, one of the vital roles you play is in keeping those volunteers engaged, involved and in touch with what is happening and how their work makes a difference. Recognition and appreciation of volunteers is crucial, to make sure they know that their gifts of time and talents are noticed and valued. But just as important can be communication with those volunteers, to let them know you’re in touch, you’re available, and their opinions and inputs are being heard.
In the modern era of traditional and social media, there are myriad avenues available to ensure that volunteers are being heard and that two-way communication is happening. Here are some ideas for effective communication with your association’s valued volunteers:
  • Social media accounts: Most people have a presence on popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. In addition to being a great place to share personal news and opinions, social media groups specific to your association or your sub-group within that organization can be established. This allows for volunteers to share news and other offerings specific to the organization within an exclusive group. Set up a group-specific Twitter handle that volunteers can follow. Establish a Facebook page for your volunteer group. Post news relevant to the group there. Share photos from association events. Make it fun, and let volunteers know they are part of something valuable.
  • Phone or video conferences: Written communication is great, but seeing faces and hearing voices is important from time to time. Establishment of a regularly-scheduled conference call or video link (using a service such as Skype) is a great way for volunteers to hear and see one another, share opinions, air concerns and communicate more clearly. It’s also a great forum for recognizing and thanking volunteers publicly for their contributions. These calls need not be overly long – most should not take more than 30 minutes – but having them at a regularly-scheduled time can often allow for greater participation.
  • Email blasts: We all check out email, seemingly hundreds of times per day. In less than two decades, it has become the way that communication happens. A regularly-scheduled email update to volunteers about what’s happening, what’s coming up and who is doing great work is an excellent way to keep groups engaged and involved. Depending on the frequency of the communication, the length of an email blast need not be more than a few paragraphs – something that volunteers can read in a relatively short setting, to get a reminder of their group’s activities and their value in the big picture.
Keeping dedicated volunteers involved and active is vital. Making sure they are engaged and informed through various methods of communication is key to make your association a success.

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