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Four ways to keep amazing volunteers

You’ve recruited a great bunch of adults who work well together. But how do you keep them happy and motivated so they continue to volunteer with you?

Step 1 A warm welcome

Think back to how you were welcomed into Scouts. Did you feel part of the team? Were you introduced to everyone? Was the time commitment explained to you? Were you told about the training and the support available? 

If the answers to these questions are yes, then you already know what you’re doing! If the answers to any of these are ‘no’, then follow these simple steps:

  1. Make sure your volunteer feels comfortable by being open and welcoming. A smile goes a long way! 
  2. Be honest with your new volunteers about what to expect, including tasks, commitment levels and training available.
  3. Introduce them to the other volunteers, particularly the Group Scout Leader who can explain policies like expenses and health and safety. Share contact details so they know who to go to if they’ve got any issues. 
  4. If you use names like Akela make sure they get one too and add them to group chats and social media. 
  5. Introduce them to the young people (make sure you tell them about any specific needs that they should be aware of). 
  6. Give them a job to do right away so they feel useful. Find out about their interests and what skills they have to offer so you know which tasks they’ll be good at and enjoy doing. 
  7. Check in regularly, and give them a buddy who’ll support them. 
  8. Welcome packs are a great way to give new volunteers all of the information they need in one go. Include things like contact lists, policy cards, any useful links and parent guides. You could include a list of acronyms they might see like GSL, ADC and DC. If your Group uses OSM, don’t forget to make sure they have access and know how to use it.

Most importantly, remain positive and make sure they feel needed and appreciated no matter what their role; tea maker, minibus driver, activity planner or Exec Committee member.  

Step 2 Say thank you!

We should always take the time to thank and reward people (adults and young people) for their efforts and achievements. This might be recognising a job well done, celebrating a permit or top award or simply saying ‘thank you’ for helping out.

Here are some great ways to say thank you and celebrate with your Group.

Step 3 Talk to them  

We know that happy volunteers stick around. So how do you know if your volunteers are really happy? Talk to them! 

Have a regular chat over a cuppa to find out if they’re enjoying the tasks assigned to them or if they fancy a change. Having regular chats like this will mean you can nip any niggles in the bud and make sure everyone is getting what they need from being a volunteer. 

Every volunteer also needs a more formal review to talk about what they want to do in the future. This isn’t a performance review but a chance to make sure you have a happy team. It’s a time to chat about what they enjoy, what they don’t enjoy and what new skills they would like to learn. There are some great tools to help you with reviews:

  • Finding out how volunteers are getting on 
  • Appointment review form
  • Adult training - independent learning modules

Step 4 Volunteer journey

The volunteer journey is a useful tool you can use to explain the path that new adults take when they join the Scouts. It shows where they can find the training and support they need to become amazing leaders and how the Group and District can help them.

Every adult at the Scouts should feel part of the team, know what’s going on, what’s expected of them and where they can go next.