4 Tips for Happy and Hardworking Volunteers


Image: Kincaid PTA

Image: Kincaid PTA

You’ve spent months on your communications plan in an effort to earn media coverage and attract volunteers for your community event. Now that you have people ready to get dirty for the cause, don’t miss an opportunity to inspire them to become brand ambassadors.

In this excerpt from PR News' "CSR & Green PR Guidebook, Vol. 6", Matt McClain, marketing and communications director for the Surfrider Foundation, provides four tips to inspire the troops.

> Tap into your volunteer’s passions: The adage that people protect what they love holds true, says McClain. The Surfrider Foundation’s activists are generally beach enthusiasts, and protecting the ocean is part of their lifestyle. “You want people to equate the brand with what they’re doing while volunteering,” McClain says.

> Have a team of vocal leaders on site: On-site events require a well-detailed game plan. “There’s nothing more frustrating as a volunteer to show up and receive no directions,” McClain says. “If you don’t have someone providing clear directions like, ‘Here’s a bag and gloves, and we’re going a quarter-mile down the beach in this direction,’ you’re leaving people up to their own devices.”

> Keep things animated and dynamic: If leaders can’t keep people active and moving, volunteers won’t be enthusiastic, McClain adds. Events have to be authentic, engaging and fun for everyone.

> Be appreciative: The immediate sense of accomplishment from volunteering is a motivating factor for people to share and consider your brand above others, says McClain. “So take a group shot and email volunteers the picture and encourage them to share it among their networks and say, ‘While everyone was sleeping in I was out cleaning up the beach,’” McClain says.

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Follow Lucia Davis: @LKCDavis.


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About Lucia Davis

Lucia Davis is community editor for PR News. Prior to returning to NYC, she was associate editor at iMedia Connection in Culver City, CA. In addition to PR News and iMedia, Lucia's writing has appeared in minonline, "The Minetta Review," "EQUITIES Magazine," and "The Foothills Paper."



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  • grapevinepr

    Excellent and insightful article from Ms. Davis. What I took away from this were four key points, which are really important in any relationship: Gratitude, Engagement, Value and Validation. Be thankful that they’re there, engage with them and make them really feel like they’re a part of it, give them added value or perks, and validate them, or in other words, show them you recognize their worth and appreciate it. Great tips! – Steven Le Vine

    • Lucia Davis

      Thank you so much Steven! Really appreciate the kind words :)