Maintaining Relationships

I recently read a blog post by Susan Ellis about building and maintaining relationships with former volunteers. (Yes she said former …) I found the article to be thought provoking as Susan pointed out that we often follow this practice with donors… no matter the size of their gifts, we keep in touch and continue to ask for more support. Most of the volunteers that I have worked with over the years have left because of a life change or added responsibilities. Only a very small percent leave on negative terms. We say thank you and goodbye … but do we keep in touch and continue to ask them for more support? Are we assuming that once they leave they will never come back? Susan suggested asking exiting volunteers who can no longer commit to regular hours to be “ on call “ or to train new incoming volunteers. We can share our wish lists or volunteer vacancies with them so that they can promote our needs. She even suggested a volunteer alumni e newsletter that would include not only former volunteers but episodic volunteers and people who might attend our fundraising events. Such communication might celebrate volunteer accomplishments, list our volunteer needs and send out Kudos. With today’s technology, keeping in touch with volunteers is easy and inexpensive. Using Facebook, LinkedIn or a Yahoo Group can keep you connected and keep them informed. Shouldn’t we look at Former Volunteers as Current Friends? Even if the former volunteer cannot return, who better to spread the word of the good works of your volunteer efforts than people who have been dedicated to your cause?

Tina Bennett
CP Rochester