A Question of Retention

Imagine this: It is 1981. You pool all your allowance money and/or every $4.50 per hour pay cheque and lock-in your dollars in an interest yielding account. The Bank of Canada interest rate is about to peak at 21% per year and you will experience a significant return on your investment!

Like interest rates in the early 80’s, volunteerism in Canada has experienced skyrocketing growth spurts. Stats Canada reports that nearly 49% of the population volunteered in 2010 – which is hardly surprising as Canada has the 2nd largest non profit and voluntary sector in the world (the Netherlands is 1st. The USA rates 5th.) Giving back through volunteerism is not only an important part of our Canadian identity, culture, and values, it is essential to our economy and collective wellness.

National volunteerism rates are extremely healthy and there are many exciting new ways volunteers can connect to 1000’s of diverse opportunities to volunteer. Still, at this time of tremendous positivity, difficult questions are beginning to form. If volunteer rates have stopped growing year over year – has Canada’s volunteer rate just stagnated temporarily, or have we reached a tipping point?  

Imagine this: It is 2013 and the market place is beginning to shift. Your organization predicts that you will need more volunteers in the future and that the competition for highly skilled volunteers will increase. You consider how you can experience the best return on your volunteer investments and begin to take action.

1. You strengthen your understanding of the key factors that impact volunteer retention rates in your organization and commit to continuously addressing retention issues.  2. You increase the quality of the whole volunteer experience to make your organization a volunteering magnet. 3. You actively help volunteers develop their volunteering competencies so that they continue to learn and feel connected to the sector. 4. You deal with volunteer issues promptly. (Studies show that a single negative volunteer experience will stop an individual from volunteering again while the more positive volunteering experiences a volunteer has the more they will volunteer.) 4. You empower your entire organization with the ability to help build a better volunteer program.

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