Volunteers are an important resource for your organisation and help you complete your mission. The value of these contributions, from stuffing envelopes to spending months volunteering overseas, should not be overlooked. Here are a few tips to help you help your organisation find, acknowledge and manage these volunteers.
- Be Strategic About Volunteer Selection. Many organisations wait for volunteers to come to them, but don’t be afraid to go looking for volunteers if there is a special skill set you need. Schools and universities are a great place to advertise volunteer positions that relate to specific courses of study or departments.
- Be Clear About Expectations. To ensure a successful and fulfilling experience, ensure that you are clear about what you expect from your volunteers. Equally important, be sure to get a good understanding of what they hope to gain from the experience so that you are placing them into the appropriate volunteer roles.
- Provide Adequate Training and Support. Providing volunteers with a proper orientation and written instructions is a great way to ensure that you will not have to remind them how to complete their tasks and ensure that they have clearly defined responsibilities. Make sure that they have a staff member to report to or go to if they have any questions or problems.
- Thank Your Volunteers. Always acknowledge and thank your volunteers for their efforts on the day(s) that they volunteer, but also take other opportunities to thank and steward. If possible, record your volunteers’ birthdays and send them a birthday card or email. December 5th is the United Nations International Day of the Volunteer and is a great opportunity to recognise volunteers and their contributions.
- Evaluate. Provide your volunteers with constructive performance evaluations and give them the opportunity to provide feedback through interviews or volunteer surveys. Take that feedback into consideration when analysing and modifying your volunteer program.
- Track and Report Volunteer Contributions. In addition to financial statements, most organisations report annually on their programs or services as another way of measuring their successes. Why not include the number of volunteers, volunteer hours and equivalent monetary contribution of your volunteers over the last year as well? This is another great way to acknowledge their contributions whilst also giving a fuller picture of the work your organisation does.
Even if their volunteer role is not a public facing one, remember that all volunteers are still an ambassador for your organisation and will often talk about their experiences, good and bad. By finding the right volunteers, giving them clear expectations and properly training and acknowledging them you will be building a successful volunteer program.