New volunteers arrive at nonprofits with expectations and feelings.  They negotiate conflicting emotions – surprise, anticipation, joy, fear, ambiguity, etc. – as they acclimate to their new surroundings.

During this critical time in the volunteer’s lifecycle, these emotions are important to address but are often ignored, as organizations focus on communicating organizational requirements, policies and procedures versus prioritizing human relationships, trust building, and bonding.

One way to reverse this trend, is to focus on improving each step of the new volunteer’s journey through your onboarding process and by finding ways to improve the support you offer newcomers at each step.

New Volunteers and Customer Service Needs 

If you define customer service as 1) listening to your customer’s needs, 2) educating them about their choices, and 3) equipping them with resources to make an informed decision, it’s easy to see how this might translate to the nonprofit sector and how we welcome new volunteers.

According to Leonardo Inghilleri & Micah Solomon — responsible for the exceptional service found at the Ritz-Carlton and other brands — there are the four key things customers want from businesses they purchase from.  Below are some ways they align with volunteer needs, and are particularly important for new volunteers as they become acclimated to their new role.

new volunteers

New Volunteer Loyalty is Priceless

By investing in providing excellent customer service to new volunteers, you’ll no doubt increase satisfaction and retention rates. But, you’ll do even more than that.  You will foster greater loyalty and word of mouth marketing about your cause.

Imagine if each one of your new volunteers were transformed into an evangelist, who raved about your work to friends and family. How many more people could you reach? True customer loyalty is priceless.

Great word of mouth not only attracts volunteers, it also increases awareness and donations.  Focus on first impressions and supporting newcomers, and you’ll reap the rewards.