Directing & Managing Volunteers
This article focuses on the steps that an organization can take when developing a quality volunteer management system. Such a system is necessary in order to effectively direct and manage the activities of volunteers. Various models will be introduced and the role of recruitment, training, retention and recognition of volunteers is discussed.
Keywords For-profit Organizations; Human Resource Management; Non-profit Organizations; Recruitment; Retention; Training; Volunteers
There are many activities that rely on the assistance of volunteers. Volunteers are crucial to some organizations (especially non-profit organizations) as they have the ability to administer programs for their targeted audience. "Existing research has almost exclusively focused on the human resource management of employees working in large for-profit organizations, with non-profit organizations and volunteer dependent organizations receiving scant attention (Cuskelly, Taylor, Hoye & Darcy, 2006, p. 142). This article attempts to present some of the techniques that may be helpful in managing and directing volunteers in a variety of organizations. Volunteers do not receive a salary. Therefore, it is important to determine how an organization can recruit and retain loyal and hard working volunteers.
Before recruiting volunteers, it may be beneficial to have an effective internal system in place. Those managing the volunteers must establish processes, policies and procedures that will provide the volunteers with information about how the organization and programs are run. Some of the best practices can be documented based on the systems in place at a variety of organizations.Three Step Volunteer Management System
In 2005, the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) established an effective volunteer management system that was based on three easy steps.Step 1: Prepare for volunteers.
- Organizations can work on promotional opportunities concerning their organization prior to recruiting. One of the advantages for taking this approach is that it is possible to develop a network of potential volunteer candidates prior to the official recruiting campaign. Many people want to learn about an organization prior to volunteering their time. In addition, people want to know that their time is valued. Given the fact that the average person is juggling multiple and competing priorities, it is important to know that an organization is well organized and structured prior to making a commitment to give time, no matter how important the cause may be. Therefore, some of the following efforts should be in place prior to the recruitment of volunteers.
- Establish policies, procedures, and record-keeping systems, and document them in a volunteer handbook.
- Resolve legal and liability issues pertaining to volunteer involvement.
- Create systems for evaluating the performance of volunteers and the outcome of volunteer initiatives.
- Train volunteer recruiters to speak knowledgeably and enthusiastically about the organization's goals and programs.
- Review the organization's upcoming initiatives to identify volunteer needs. Every organization should make sure that there is a place for the volunteers.
- Create brief position descriptions for each volunteer role, including the pros and cons of volunteering.
Once the foundation has been laid in the first step, the organization may turn its attention to recruiting volunteers. Recruiting the right volunteers involves more than asking people to help out. Before recruiting individuals, it is best to look at what the organization's needs are. When conducting the needs assessment, some of the questions that should be asked include:
- Who is qualified for and interested in the position?
- Who is able to meet the time requirement of the position?
- Where can the organization find these people?
- What is the best way to approach potential recruits?
The type of recruiting strategy (i.e. targeted or broad based) is dependent on the outcomes of the needs assessment. Targeted recruitment is the preferred approach when the organization is attempting to find potential candidates with a specific set of skills, interests, and availability needed for a particular position. On the other hand, a broad based recruitment approach may be more appropriate when the projects require many volunteers and they only need a minimum amount of training.Step 3: Recognize volunteers.
It is only human nature for people to want to receive recognition for the work that they have done on a project. Therefore, it is important for organizations to develop a...
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