HTM Blog

Connecting learning and community.

The Holyoke Tutor/Mentor program connects volunteers to adult education classes in Holyoke.

Staying (pt.1)

Staying (pt.1)

Volunteer retention is the kind of stat only a volunteer coordinator could love. 

But, it's also the kind of unflashy measure that makes everything else possible. 

As volunteers stay and gain experience they build closer connections with teachers and students, and build skills for their role. On the other hand, turn over is disruptive to classes, and constantly recruiting and placing new volunteers leaves little time to devote to strengthening or growing the program in other ways. 

That is was important was not hard to figure out. How to track and address it has been harder. But I'm now (finally!) pretty sure we're making progress. 

(Of course, I got excited about that data and two volunteers promptly emailed with serious, legitimate reasons to stop volunteering for a while, so I may be tempting fate, here). 

But, really, I'm excited. 

I've started to keep track of two measures: How many people come back after the summer break? How many people leave over the course of the year? (For both, I've ignored the college students who only ever planned/committed to a single semester)

Summer is tough. Schedules abhor a vacuum (even more I suspect than nature) So two to three months off from volunteering and those hours fill up with other commitments. 

And, yet this year, 80% of our volunteer team came back to start the school year. Last year it was 60%. *  

That's a victory I'll take. 

During the school year, the reasons to leave tend to be more acute: A job change, a family member who needs care, a health problem. I suspect there is less room to maneuver.

So, 6 months in to the year, this data looks pretty steady. We're a little over halfway through the school year, and we've lost about half as many (58%) volunteers as we did in the previous year.*

* Before that I didn't organize the data in the same way / for tracking retention. My best attempt to reconstruct it puts the summer return rate at about 66% for summer of 2015.

** Again with the differently organized data, for two years ago, it looks like we lost more volunteers. 

Staying (pt. 2)

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Saturday, 25 June 2022

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