Engaged volunteers are crucial to the overall success of animal shelters, and improvements are needed across the board. The suggestions provided here for increasing satisfaction among shelter volunteers can improve the productivity of animal shelters and veterinary practices alike.
Animal shelters perform critically important work for their communities. Although some shelter workers are paid employees, volunteers are often needed to help shelters meet their daily obligations and long-term goals. Unfortunately, some shelter volunteers experience dissatisfaction with their work, which can impact the overall effectiveness of the shelter operation.
At the 2017 Animal Care Expo in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, an interactive workshop sponsored by ShelterBuddy highlighted some of the issues shelter volunteers face as well as some of the things they like about the work they do. This lively session was moderated by Steven Rogelberg, PhD, director of organizational science at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and two of the university’s doctoral students, Eleanor Williams and Haley Woznyi.
The moderators presented data from a large survey of shelter volunteers conducted by the Volunteer Program Assessment (VPA) and worked with session attendees to identify solutions for addressing the issues volunteers face and improving the overall volunteer experience. VPA surveyed approximately 19,000 shelter volunteers at 175 shelter organizations to generate the data discussed.
Although the session focused on animal shelter workers, many of the recommendations can improve work satisfaction for veterinary team members as well.
What Are Shelters Doing Well?
Survey respondents noted several positive things about their volunteer experience, including:
Which Areas Need Work?
Survey respondents also indicated several areas of concern, including:
Suggestions for Improvement
The rest of the session focused on ways to help improve the difficulties shelter volunteers face. Suggestions for shelter management to increase the satisfaction level of volunteers included: