How to Manage Volunteers for Super Productivity

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Volunteering can be a very rewarding experience for individuals and the communities they serve. By managing your volunteers well, you can make the most of their contributions. Here are some suggestions:

Preparing For Volunteers

1. Assess your organization. Recruiting volunteers always sounds like a good idea. Before you do, be sure to thoroughly review whether your organization can offer an experience that will benefit both you and your potential supporters. Identify appropriate tasks. Ensure you can provide adequate support and supervision.

2. Conduct interviews. Matching the right candidate with the right role is essential. Talk with people about their skills and what they want to do. Someone who works in information technology may want to provide computer services. Or they may want a chance to branch out and do something completely different, like work with children.

3. Hold an orientation. Welcome new volunteers with a comprehensive orientation. Brief them on the mission, history, and services of your organization. Take them on a tour of your facilities and the area where they’ll be working.

4. Provide training. Get off to a good start by offering instruction for the specific tasks that the volunteers will be doing. Experienced volunteers can be a great asset for inspiring newcomers and providing guidance. Complement your training sessions with manuals that volunteers can keep or refer to online.

Working With Volunteers

1. Sign a written agreement with detailed position descriptions. Put your expectations for volunteers and the organization into writing. It will help everyone stay on track and accomplish what they set out to do.

2. Integrate volunteers into the organization. Ensure that volunteers feel like they’re a valued part of the team. Introduce them to the staff. Invite them to meetings and encourage them to report on their work. Where appropriate, many volunteers will enjoy having direct contact with the people or animals that your organization serves.

3. Coordinate. Online scheduling tools make a coordinator’s work much easier. Post your volunteer opportunities online so your constituents can view them whenever they want. Track the number of people who sign up so you’ll be prepared to make good use of their time.

4. Evaluate. Develop procedures to give and get feedback from your volunteers. It will help improve your program over time. Plus, it’s one more way to demonstrate your accomplishments to funders.

Recognizing Volunteers

1. Get results. The best recognition a volunteer can get is to be part of a successful team. Let them know how their individual efforts advance the mission of your organization. Feeling valued will make them want to keep coming back and maybe recruit their friends to volunteer too.

2. Encourage professional advancement. Recent graduates may be looking for experience to enhance their resume. Working professionals may want to improve their skills or participate in an organization that’s respected in their field. Offer to provide reference letters, certificates or other assistance for volunteers who are interested.

3. Socialize. Some people volunteer in the hope of making new friends or even finding a romantic partner. Arrange an outing or throw a party that ties in with your mission and fits your budget. For example, a group that works on cleaning up their local river could take everyone out kayaking.

4. Present a gift. Thoughtful gifts are an ideal way to show your appreciation and strengthen the connection to your organization. Get t-shirts printed with an appropriate slogan or transfer a group photo onto a travel mug.

Volunteers are an excellent resource for extending the capacity of community organizations and accomplishing more with less money. Skillful management can help everyone work together with greater success.

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