Taking Care of Your Volunteers

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Volunteers can be essential to the success of a CSO. They offer skillsets, potential donations, visibility for additional fundraising, and often fill (unfunded) roles that enable a CSO to achieve its mission. What can CSO leaders do to attract and retain such talent? Elaborating on the Points of Light Foundation’s best practices, we believe these guiding principles and actions are key to inspiring and keeping top-notch volunteers:

Display Leadership

While this is obviously critical for CSOs that are addressing community emergencies in a hands-on fashion, it also holds true in the context of daily activities. Founders, directors and other leaders in an organization set the tone and direction of the organization, model behavior, and are key to keeping volunteers energized and proud of their affiliation.


Dedicated volunteers often look to apply their skills and add value in an organization. Whether they’re just starting out, are mid-career, or have retired, volunteers thrive when connected with growth opportunities, mentorships or leadership roles for (unfunded) functions.

Communicate Two Ways

Involving volunteers in ongoing discussions in and about your organization, and communicating openly with them, builds trust. Creating time and a process for understanding their views and values, and responding to feedback, builds bridges and gives insight into your stakeholders’ concerns.

Recognize and Reward

Volunteer awards, appreciation days or other events to honor those who have made a contribution to your organization shows you are taking care of your volunteers.

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