Keeping volunteers engaged

The key to attracting and keeping volunteers engaged is showing them the value of their contribution! This works at several levels …

  • Being part of a group of folk with similar interests and cares is hard to measure but recognised as a huge benefit. Encouraging meet-ups for coffee or general interest sessions can provide further engagement, allow for sharing ideas and techniques, and help manage the team effort.
  • Sharing the test results and the time spent is vital—after all, that’s the point of the testing! This can be done through a central data repository such as the Water Rangers database, which is, in turn, widely available and used to update information for interest groups such as the Rivers Trust, Earthwatch, and several University programmes.
  • Publishing locally on a group web page allows trends to be seen and the growing value of the information as it is collected. Local examples here are from the River Wey Trust and Water Rangers at Guildford, UK.
  • Keeping in touch – social media such as using WhatsApp to organise meetings and keep people involved with the testing days, and more publicly with general chat on Facebook and Instagram draws in new interest and keeps people in the loop.
  • Be careful with using personal data and the ‘tone’ of the messages.

Most important is having a regular event where volunteers know they can catch up, where new volunteers can find out about the activity.

Probably the simplest way of doing this is to pick a prime spot where ‘the public’ go by and can see you doing the water testing – people will stop to look, and most will ask questions.

If possible, adding a signpost to your regular testing spot with contact details will catch passers-by even on non testing days!

RiverFly sampling – sampling for and assessing the number of invertebrates at a test site – takes longer to do, but attracts even more interest. Combining RiverFly sampling with water quality chemical tests makes for a useful two hour activity and will engage with all ages.

Updated on May 1, 2024

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