Take your friends with you

As active community volunteers, it is important to encourage teamwork.
One great way to encourage and support your teammates is to communicate early and often.

Take your supporters on the journey.
It lets them know they matter.

Matt Dell

One organisation that is amazing at giving volunteer feedback is the Red Cross Lifeblood. Every time the donation van visits I make a point of being available to donate. Why? For the greater good? Well Yes and No.

We all understand that donating blood is a good thing to do generally speaking. But what Lifeblood do very well is to make the process very personal. When you arrive to the donation van the nurses on site are so friendly and helpful but above all grateful. They really make you feel valuable and you walk out on a high – that might just be the free biscuits and lollies too. But the message is consistent and genuine – they are really grateful.

Being a health organisation, Lifeblood take a lot of information on donors, confidentially of course. In recent years they have begun using that information and technology to send appointment reminders and ‘Thank You’ messages. But not just some generic Thank You:

Thank you for your O+ blood donation! This donation was just as vital as all others from you before it. In fact, it could be giving life to someone soon as it's already on its way to  Westmead Children's Hospital. Thanks, Lifeblood
Lifeblood text message

I think this sort of ‘story-telling’ is amazing. Because I received this message I haven’t just done some random good deed – I may have saved someone’s life at the Children’s Hospital! That is really compelling feedback that locks in my future participation. There is no way I am missing a donation appointment now, knowing that some child may be waiting for my gift.

This makes me think about how our own organisations ‘tell the story’ to our participants – be they hands on helpers, donors or supporters.
Are we consistent and sincere in our messages? If not how could we improve?
Do we ‘tell our story’ and take our helpers and supporters along for the ride?
If not, what activity could we schedule to reinforce this message?
Could we attract and retain more volunteers by reminding them of their value?
If yes, how best could we do that and make it a habit?

As busy volunteers we have competing pressures and distractions so it is easy to take some things for granted. Let’s make a habit out of telling everyone – including our teammates – the story of not just what we are doing, by why we are doing it, and the results of our actions.
Along the way you might just remind yourself too!