The behaviors of leaders and managers play a significant role in creating an inclusive environment for volunteers. Leaders and managers shape the behaviors of others and provide opportunities for recognition and rewards. For organizations to be truly inclusive, all individuals, including volunteers, must be involved in organizational decision-making. In a truly inclusive environment, volunteers feel like a vital part of an organization where their perspectives are valued.
Nonprofits and charities have found inclusion to provide many unique organizational benefits, including improving engagement and organizational outcomes. Therefore, organizations have begun to evaluate inclusive leadership to meet the individual needs of their evolving volunteer workforce and increase belonging, which is an essential factor in retaining volunteers. Research also demonstrates that providing an inclusive and supportive environment where volunteers feel connected and included can increase retention and volunteer giving behavior. Considering these findings, creating an inclusive environment can provide positive outcomes for your 4-H program.
Steps to Create an Inclusive Environment for Volunteers
1.) Let your volunteers have a voice
Allow your volunteers to have a voice in decision-making processes. Share the goals and objectives of your program and regularly ask for feedback from your volunteers.
2.) Show your volunteers that they belong
Provide opportunities to include volunteers in regularly scheduled programs and events. Include volunteer impact and upcoming events in newsletters, program emails, and social media.
3.) Celebrate your volunteers’ unique talents and skills
Volunteers have their own unique talents and expertise, which is why we need to celebrate them. Schedule opportunities to highlight your volunteers in program communication.
4.) Communicate program goals and successes
Share annual goals and objectives, as well as program impact statements, with your volunteers. Include a section on volunteer impact and how volunteers played a factor in program success.
5.) Value collaboration
Embrace opportunities to collaborate with volunteers and other community partners. Volunteers have knowledge and resources to share, as well as connections, that can help you reach your annual goals as well as grow or improve programs.
6.) Provide access to resources and training materials
Volunteers want access to resources and materials to be effective in their service roles. Ensure that information and training resources are readily available. Additionally, talk to your volunteers to understand if you are meeting their training needs.
For more information on creating an inclusive environment for volunteers, contact Meggan Franks, Louisiana 4-H Volunteer & Leadership Development Specialist.