Volunteers quit. Most of the time, it's not because they don't feel qualified or have lost their sense of purpose and mission.
It's because of the leader. Normally volunteers quit because they aren't aligned with the leader or don't like serving with him or her.
What do leaders do that makes volunteers quit? Let's look at 7 of them.
#1 - The leader places them in a spot that doesn't align with their passion or giftedness.
Have you ever been in a role that you hated? You dreaded serving because it wasn't aligned with what you really like to do. When you signed up to serve, the leader didn't place you where you enjoyed being. Instead he or she placed you where he or she needed you.
Soon your delight turns to defeat. You dread walking into that room or fulfilling the duties of the role where you were placed.
Leaders must be intentional about where they place volunteers. If you will help them find their niche, they will stay with you.
#2 - The leader doesn't provide enough up front training. You can't expect a volunteer to thrive or even last, when you only provide them with minimum training and then shove them in a room with 30 preschoolers.
#3 - The leader doesn't champion relationships. He or she makes it all about "business." And yet relationships are the super glue for people serving for the long haul. Leaders must get to know the volunteers on a deeper level.
I remember one leader I served with. He never took time to ask about my family, about what was going on in my life and how I was doing. When we met 1-on-1, it was straight to business. Needless to say, it was hard to serve with him.
In contrast, I remember another leader who always spent the first 10-15 minutes of our meeting with questions about my family, my life, etc.
I was much more motivated to serve with the leader who made it personal. And it's the same with your volunteers. They don't care about your title, your awards or your background. They simply want to know if you care about them as a person and not just about what they can "add" to the ministry.
#4 -The leader never says "Thank you." Over 65% of volunteers say they have never heard the words "Thank you for serving and making a difference." And then we wonder why we have such a high turn over rate with volunteers.
Everyone wants to know that someone appreciates their service and that they are making a difference. Volunteers who experience true gratitude are much more likely to keep serving.
#5 - The leader doesn't follow through on promises. Volunteers get very frustrated when a leader makes promises and then doesn't keep them. Your word must be your bond. Over time, keeping your word will cause volunteers to have a deep trust in you and your leadership.
#6 - The leader takes advantage of them - spontaneously asking them to stay overand serve extra services. When this happens, volunteers begin to feel used. They will feel like you care more about what they do than about them as a person.
#7 - The leader takes the credit for the wins and shifts the blame when something fails. The leader is trying to be a star rather than creating stars. He or she is trying to be powerful rather than empowering.
And when something fails, the leader is full of excuses and refuses to own the failure.
As you have been reading through these seven reasons why volunteers quit, be reminded of the effect it has on team morale when a volunteer quits. It's vital that you create a culture where volunteers love serving and stick around.
There is no way a leader can control every aspect of their team's volunteer experience. Some people will leave and there is nothing you can do about it. But that should be the minority. When you lead volunteers well, the majority will stick around.
The better you lead, the more your volunteers will accomplish and the more satisfied they will be.
If you need more help or ideas about leading a volunteer team, then my book "The Formula for Building Great Volunteer Teams" is just what you need. It's available in both paperback and ebook formats. It has been called the best book ever written on the subject.