Six Surprising Realities about the State of Volunteer Management

Guest post by Tobi Johnson, Tobi Johnson & Associates and VolunteerPro

The 2015 Volunteer Management Progress Report Word CloudIn the fall of 2015, we distributed our first ever Volunteer Management Progress Report survey. With so little information available about volunteer professionals, and a pressing need for advocacy for our field, it seemed like a good time to start gathering data. We are glad we did.

To our surprise, over 930 professionals completed the survey from top to bottom. With 41 questions, it demonstrated a real commitment on the part of busy pros (if you are one of the people who participated…thank you!) Undoubtedly, the support from our distribution partners such as VolunteerMatch helped inspire this fantastic response rate.

Not surprisingly, the results confirmed much of what we already knew about the profession. But they also tested some of our basic assumptions. Here are six of our most interesting findings:

1. “Coordinator” (39%) was the top word included in the job titles of those surveyed. “Manager” (27%) and “Director” (19%) were second and third respectively. “Administrator” was almost never used in an official title.

2. Salaries for volunteer managers varied widely; the median salary was $40-45K per year. Perhaps most surprising was that we found little correlation between salary and professional certifications or job title. Higher salaries were, however, more likely to be found in organizations with higher numbers of volunteers annually, higher organizational budgets, and higher numbers of paid staff.

3. Also interestingly, there was little correlation between volunteer manager satisfaction and organization budget or annual salary.

4. The top training needs for volunteer managers came as a surprise as well. Developing Program Outcome Metrics (46%), Program Evaluation & Data-Based Decision-Making (43%), and Strategic Partnerships & Coalitions (42%) edged out Volunteer Recognition & Retention (39%) and Volunteer Recruitment (36%), the latter of which are often cited as the most challenging tasks for volunteer managers.

5. In addition, it appeared that the availability of volunteer reimbursements for out of pocket expenses had little to do with available resources. Nearly half of those surveyed (49%) do not reimburse volunteers for expenses regardless of budget size.

6. Finally, despite the fact that the field is challenging, it is also rewarding to many — Nearly 80% of volunteer coordinators are Somewhat or Very Satisfied with their role, and 67% plan to be working in the field 3 years from now.

With this first year under our belt, we plan to continue the Volunteer Management Progress Report survey each year. Our hope is that it can serve as a resource for effective advocacy both within organizations and outside them. This fall, we will release the 2017 survey. So, stay tuned, and plan to participate!

Want to Learn More?

Download your copy of the report and get an alert when the new survey is open.

We also presented the results during a VolunteerMatch Insights webinar. Watch the recording.


About the author:
Tobi Johnson, MA, CVA is president of Tobi Johnson & Associates and founder of VolunteerPro, an online learning community for volunteer managers, designed to save time and accelerate skills and impact. With over 30 years nonprofit experience, she focuses exclusively on training and consulting with nonprofits to strengthen their volunteer strategy.