The ultimate secret in volunteer retention

26 February 2015

The ultimate secret in volunteer retention

HSA Australia team member Tara Cantwell has written our blog for this month.


I was a teenager once, a shy, silly creature. Yet, at age 14 I began volunteering with an organization, supporting children with disabilities on camps and fun day activities. It changed my life, created my career and helped form the very person I am today. This same organization, Interchange Outer East have been working with HSA and have started developing one-page profiles for their current group of recreation volunteers. This group seem a whole lot savvier than me, however the deceptively simple one-page profile is still doing great things.

As many people working with person-centred thinking skills know, a one-page profile has these titles,

  • What do others like and admire about me?
  • What’s important to me?
  • How to support me?

Turning the answers of these questions into a one-page description of a volunteer enables them to tell us exactly the right way in which to support them – therefore revealing the ultimate secret ingredient of how precisely to retain them.

The volunteers at Interchange attacked their descriptions with gusto at the recent volunteer camp (a camp just for them as appreciation and professional development).

Rather than see it as more bureaucratic paperwork, volunteers are telling people that they are excited to be listened to and to be asked for their opinions. Volunteers enjoy telling their peers what they admire about them and perhaps not surprisingly, they are passing on this positive attitude and ability to see one’s admirable attributes, to the children they are volunteering with.  An active culture of appreciation is forming.

So as momentum gathers with this team and its quest for support that is person-centred, what are Interchange Outer East’s next steps for the recreation volunteers?  Ensuring all 400 recreation volunteers have a one-page profile!  We’ll keep you posted…

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