Maintaining a successful volunteer program is not an easy job. It is a complicated process with many constantly moving parts. Recently, Jennifer Bennett from the VolunteerMatch team presented “The New Volunteer Manager’s Toolkit,” a webinar that addresses this very issue.
Jennifer outlined some of the components that define most volunteer programs – some that are immediately apparent, and some that are easier to overlook:
In addition to writing detailed job descriptions, marketing a recruitment plan, writing a thought-provoking application and interviewing candidates, it is important to get to know your volunteers. This will not only help with risk management, but will also increase chances of retention and overall success. One way to start to get to know volunteers is through orientations and training. Contrary to popular belief, orientations and trainings are not the same thing. An orientation introduces the culture, policies and procedures of your organization, while a training tells a volunteer what they need to know and do to be successful.
On the technical end, you’re going to need a non-disclosure agreement, a handbook, an acknowledgement form and an agreement letter. To avoid potential risk, it is also useful in some situations to conduct a background or reference check. Jennifer sent webinar participants example files of these forms by email.
But it’s not all about risk. Volunteer management is also about identifying potential among volunteers and making the perfect match. You want to provide meaningful work for the volunteer that’s also important to the organization. You want to make use of the skills and talents a volunteer may have so the opportunity is mutually beneficial for you and the volunteer. Using these techniques can help avoid risk and help volunteers enjoy their time at your organization.
Another often overlooked aspect of volunteer management is thanking your volunteers for their hard work. At the end of the day, the most vital part of a great volunteer program is making sure everyone is on the same page and feels good about what they’re doing.
For more information about managing your nonprofit, you can visit VolunteerMatch’s Learning Center.