Run a Dog Rescue? Here are Some Ways to T-R-E-A-T Your Volunteers Right

Editor’s note: We’re thrilled to be highlighting the people, pups, and programs of Good Karma, a remarkable foster-based rescue known for its top-notch commitment to dogs and five-star volunteer experience.

We see you, rescue directors: Working your tails off to protect and promote the pups in your care, doing your doggone best to stretch limited resources, and achieving incredible things for animals in need. Beside you stands a dedicated team of volunteers who keep things going and growing. They’re your voice in the community, your fundraisers, your pillar of support when compassion fatigue strikes. Amid the hectic day-to-day rescue operations, how can you make sure your love and appreciation for your volunteers shines through?

Volunteer turnover is a real challenge for many rescues, so we asked our friends at Good Karma (GK) for tips on treating volunteers like gold. Good news: just like ear scritches and belly rubs for well-behaved pups, many of their people-pleasing suggestions won’t cost you a dime.

Warm wags of thanks. One of the most important ways to reward your volunteers is also one of the easiest simply say “thank you.” As GK volunteer Jeni L. puts it, “Volunteers don’t need to be told ‘good job’ for every little thing, but it sure doesn’t hurt to be appreciated from time to time!” GK Founder and Director Lisa Booth also suggests recognizing volunteers’ birthdays and rescue anniversaries (“Hurrah for two years of volunteering with us!”).

Work the perks. An occasional tangible T-R-E-A-T is a terrific way to recognize a volunteer who has gone above and beyond. For example, GK hosts annual volunteer appreciation events where fosters are recognized and awarded a beautiful plaque when they have achieved certain milestones, such as fostering 25 dogs. In addition, GK offers its volunteers free classes that empower, educate, and enrich, on topics such as how to have a successful meet & greet, obedience tips, photography, pet CPR, and more.

Power to the protocol. Interestingly, when we asked GK volunteers what keeps them volunteering, one of the most-mentioned perks was GK’s level of organization. As volunteer Craig V. explains, “The process is thorough and well-defined from start to finish. There is a document or checklist available for everything. This makes it easy to be successfully involved [even as a beginner].”

Photo: Good Karma

#SquadGoals. Set volunteers up to support one another. For example, GK created a private Facebook group just for its volunteers. “As a foster parent I love that I have so many people that I can turn to for any kind of assistance I need,” says GK volunteer Krysten Q. Adds Maren A., “I wouldn’t want to be given a foster dog and be more or less on my own. I love all of the support and how quickly [Lisa and the volunteers] respond if there are questions or problems.”

Lisa says, “I believe that those who volunteer their time, hearts, and homes truly deserve to get support in this endeavor and receive sincere thanks for all they do. A happy volunteer is our greatest asset.”

“I never forget for a moment what it takes to give so much of yourself,” she adds.

Finally, a note to volunteers: ‘tis lovely to give as well as receive. Just as the folks in charge will reap benefits by taking care of their MVPs (you!), taking a moment now and then to fill up their tanks will mean more than you know.

This post was sponsored by Good Karma Animal Rescue of MN. Good Karma is looking to increase their base of committed foster homes. Visit their website and Facebook page to learn more about saving a life with them. (We can smell that sweet puppy breath already!) How’s your Karma?

Leave a Comment