Telling Your Volunteers’ Stories

Volunteers crave community, and they want to share their experiences. We’re all for creating a community among volunteers – it helps with retention and just makes everyone feel a little more welcome. One of our favorite ways to get out volunteer stories is with a simple interview published on your website, blog or printed in your newsletter. It will make them feel like they’re an important part of your organization, and it will help to showcase your organization’s mission at the same time.

While an organic conversation with a volunteer will lead to the most interesting interview, we also understand that volunteer coordinators don’t always have that much time on their hands. To save time and streamline your interview process, we always suggest a list of simple, go-to questions for your volunteers. A mix of fun personal questions as well as questions pertaining specifically to their volunteer life is a great way to give your team a glimpse into the people they work with.

Below are some of our go-to questions for volunteers, but personalizing them to your volunteer and organization will always lead to a more interesting interview.

1)     How long have you been a volunteer?

2)     Why did you begin volunteering with our organization?

3)     What part of our mission statement do you identify with the most?

4)     What’s your favorite way to volunteer with our organization?

5)     When you’re not volunteering with us, what are you most likely to be doing?

So there you have it, a simple list of questions to get the conversation going with your volunteers. Keep interviews brief and interesting to give your volunteers just a glimpse into the people who make up your team.

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The Heart of Suwanee

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Cue the confetti, the rumble of drums and the clear, high trumpets from down the street. You know the scene: lawn chairs line the curb as children chatter excitedly, empty grocery bags in hand. The music gets louder as the parade slowly approaches: ornately decorated floats, dancers and Model T’s, the marching band and impending Snickers grenades. That’s right–it’s Suwanee Day. Each year, this parade kicks off what is truly a unique and inspiring town festival.

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“Suwanee Day is a celebration of community,” says Pascha Dudley, Volunteer Coordinator for the annual event. “We celebrate our likenesses, differences, and enjoy coming together to show just how great it is to be in Suwanee, Georgia.” From bounce houses to story tellers, flash mobs to local musicians–we have to agree: it does sound pretty great to be in Suwanee, Georgia! We’re not alone: this year’s celebration attracted nearly 58,000 attendees.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, planning for the Suwanee Day festival begins one year in advance, and the actual day of the event calls for over 260 volunteers. “When I joined the board, we had a volunteer database on our website,” says Pascha. “I’m not a techie, but I’m savvy. I said, ‘No. There is a better way to do this.’” The Suwanee team signed up for VolunteerLocal in early May, and began promoting open volunteer positions in September. “It was great. I could just click buttons to organize all my volunteers, whereas before I had to organize it all on excel. It saved me days of work,” she says. “Days!

This year’s celebration ended with a bang–a chorus of fireworks ushered the festivities from the town center back to the drawing board for next year’s planning committee. “We’ve already met to discuss the turnout and what we’d like to change for next year,” says Pascha. “We’re absolutely going to use VolunteerLocal again.” Online volunteer management: just one more tradition for a festival that began before even the first stop light was installed in Suwanee, Georgia.

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