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Retention vs. Attrition: How to Keep Volunteers Coming Back for Years

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It’s a challenge that leaders of volunteers have always faced: how to retain productive volunteers. According to Volunteering in America 2008, one in three American volunteers dropped out in 2007, and this lack of retention can be costly. True, some turnover is expected and even projected. Oftentimes though, good volunteers are lost because of exceedingly preventable reasons. In addition to general retention issues, burnout is often cited as a reason for volunteer attrition. Volunteer resources managers would benefit from understanding the causes of burnout; ways to mitigate and prevent burnout; and how to identify burnout in their unpaid staff members.

This issue of Along the Web can help volunteer resources managers maintain a strong volunteer base. Written by Erick C. Lear, it begins with general information regarding volunteer retention, includes academic literature on the subject, and then offers specific suggestions and strategies for improving retention and preventing burnout among volunteers. Finally, threeunique self-tests are included to help volunteer managers identify those volunteers who may be at risk of burnout.