Volunteer Management Best Practices
Volunteer management is the process of engaging and inviting volunteers into your organization. Volunteer Management is a critical function for most non-profit, school, sport and extra-curricular groups. With that in mind, today we’re sharing some best practices for volunteer management that will ensure the health of your organization’s volunteer base.
At the heart of volunteer management there are three principles that provide an excellent foundation.
- Be relevant– Make sure volunteers know, understand and buy in to the purpose- How their service helps your organization, who they are serving and how it helps them to grow individually.
- Be realistic– Make sure that volunteers understand what you are asking them to do is a reasonable match for their gifts, interests and availability. Before placing them into a role, consider who they are, their time and what they skills they can contribute.
- Be relational– Volunteers need to know that they matter more than the task you want them to accomplish. You need to put people first to create an inclusive community.
Volunteer Management Process
The volunteer management process can be distilled down to four steps- Invite, Connect, Equip and Sustain. Here’s a description of each step in greater detail.
- Invite– When making the invitation to volunteers you need to answer the following questions:
- Why do you need me?
- What you want me to do?
- What’s the purpose?
- What are your expectations?
Leverage your most committed volunteers and have them act as ambassadors for your organization to personally invite others into service. Give people an option to volunteer one time. This helps them to commit without being intimidated over the time commitment. Your volunteer management process should include a specific plan for volunteer recruitment.
- Connect– Connection is critical in keeping your volunteer base engaged and healthy.
- Connect within 48 hours.
- Make introductions and remind existing volunteers to welcome new volunteers
- Check in with new volunteers to confirm
Sometimes bad connections happen as a result of poor volunteer management. As managers some of the challenges that contribute to bad connections are too much inward focus, too much grunt work and not enough volunteers.
- Equip– Answer the following questions:
- What support will I receive?
- Who will train me?
- What resources will be provided
- Who do I call if I need help?
When creating your volunteer management training manual make sure that you provide simple instructions for logical tasks and more in depth training for involved tasks. Provide “shadowing opportunities” for new volunteers to shadow veterans for more difficult tasks. Match the depth of training with the level of responsibility. Clearly communicate your expectations.
- Sustain– Answer the following questions:
- Do I feel appreciated?
- Is this joyful work?
- How is it making a difference?
- Does leadership know my name?
One of the most important volunteer best practices involved expressing volunteer appreciation. Celebrate your volunteers. Share stories that show the impact their service has made. Make it fun. Seek and respond to feedback. Share leadership responsibilities and empower your volunteers to make appropriate decisions.
Volunteer management is easy when you follow best practices. This list was adapted from a workshop given by the Leadership Institute at Church of the Resurrection in Kansas City, MO. For more great ideas and helpful suggestions, check out this post.