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How to Reduce Volunteer Burnout


Too often when competent, reliable volunteers like Robert step up, they’re asked to take on more and more until they burn out.  This scenario is fictional, but it’s similar to those played out again and again in community associations across the country.

Volunteers frequently start out with a bang, ready to help in any way possible, only to fade after several months.  Some quit for reasons that you can’t control – perhaps their responsibilities at work have increased or their growing family requires more time.

However many leave because they feel overworked and unappreciated.  Without proper nurturing, new enthusiastic volunteers quickly become frustrated.  So what can you do to motivate and keep volunteers?

Guide Them

While you should always be looking for ways to bring in new volunteers, you also need a plan for keeping them.  Here are some tips for developing and nurturing your volunteers so they’ll be productive and effective members of your volunteer force for years to come.

  • Communicate clearly both expectations and responsibilities
  • Create a good working environment
  • Make meetings productive (and fun)
  • Get to know the volunteers and their interests.
  • Set reasonable workloads and deadlines
  • Cancel unnecessary meetings.
  • Thank Them

We all want to be appreciated and feel needed.  Thank volunteers in both formal and informal ways.  Communicate with each one personally – Tell them how instrumental they are in achieving the community’s goals.  Here are some tips:

  • Host a volunteer appreciation night
  • Hold a volunteer golf tournament
  • Give certificates of appreciation, gift cards or plaques at the annual meetings.

Finally, give them a break.  Impose term limits so they don’t get burnt out.

Symptoms of Burnout 

To determine if your association’s volunteers are suffering from burnout, ask yourself these questions: 

  • Are they constantly complaining?
  • Are they frequently late or absent?
  • Are they failing to finish the work they have been assigned?

By Clint Warrell