We all know from experience that the holidays brings volunteers out of the woodwork. A lot people feel inspired to give back and turn to our organizations in droves to do just that. Don’t we all kind of wish that that people felt as inspired to volunteer during the rest of the year? Here are are 5 things we can remember about volunteers during the Holiday Season:
- Holiday volunteers are coming to our doors with the best intentions and their desire to give back is sincere. Acknowledge and encourage volunteer ambitions by providing options for them to volunteer. It’s helpful to have identified a list of options long before the volunteers show up at your doorstep. You can also direct them to the United Way website to peruse the Holiday opportunities listed there.
- Be Patient with volunteers. I know some times it can feel exasperating to have to explain for the 10oth time that you don’t actually have direct service opportunities. Volunteer intentions are good, even if unrealistic. You can help them find a channel for those intentions that may open doors for year-round engagement
- Think outside the box, or help holiday volunteers think outside the box. We know that not everyone can serve a meal during the holidays, but volunteers often don’t. They do know there is a lot of need…you can help them to connect their desire to give backs to the real needs in your organization.
- I think when it comes down to it, we are all grateful for each and every volunteer that steps up to give time. We understand that volunteers provide vital services to people in our community. We also know that volunteers are needed all year round to support the work of our organizations. Unfortunately the “holiday” giving spirit that brings volunteers out in droves does not seem to be a year round phenomena. The inspiration to give back does seem to wain after the holidays, but I believe the desire to volunteer is ever present. Be prepared to re-ignite the giving spirit that dwells within each and every volunteer.
- Always provide an eager volunteer with alternatives, even if the alternative is not with your organization. Let them know about “adopt a family” projects. Encourage them to organize a food or gift drive with family or with co-workers. And most important: Invite them to join you in the new year.
What holiday tip would you share with your VAN peers?
Here’s to the Holidays! Wishing you multitudes of volunteer engagement!