Volunteer Management: Develop a Plan and Avoid Frustration

Volunteers are a valuable resource for organizations.  And, managing volunteers need not be a source of frustration.  With little time and attention, your organization can generate powerful volunteer impact and strengthen connections with your community.  According to National Services AmeriCorps and Senior Corps, 77.4 million Americans volunteered and served 6.9 billion hours at an estimated value of $167 Billion. Statistics show that:

  • Volunteering is an important activity and is on the rise.

  • Volunteers care about and improve their communities.

  • Volunteers are active and work to create change or address a goal or mission.

  • Volunteers’ time is valuable and contributes to your organization.

  • Successfully engaging volunteers can be challenging.

Volunteer management should include all the steps it takes to get volunteers involved, track time worked, engage volunteers, and retain your volunteers.  Through a management process, your organization can build a more strategic, positive experience and build long-term volunteer involvement.  Your approach to managing volunteers can have a direct impact on whether or not they are successful.  Elements for successful volunteer management include:

Volunteer Programs Goals, Organization Goals, and Community Goals

The importance of managing volunteers is to ensure that your volunteer goals align with your organization and community goals.  It is best to decide on a definitive direction for your volunteer program. 


Volunteer Recruitment

In order to build a successful volunteer program, you will need to continuously recruit your volunteers.  This is an ongoing process.  Your organization will want to determine roles for the volunteers.  A good volunteer management process should explain the assignments thoroughly.  And, you will want to have your volunteers register in order to provide proper screening for a safe environment.  Proper screening also allows for proper placement of the volunteer.  Volunteers will be willing to commit if they enjoy working with the activity and/or opportunity that they identify.  They will let others know about the positive experiences and continue to volunteer. 



Volunteer Communications

You want to effectively engage your volunteers and communication is key. Communication informs your volunteers of activities, opportunities, and special events.  And, remember to get provide feedback regarding when and where they wish to participate.


Volunteer Empowerment

Volunteers want the freedom in deciding when they want to work and how to carry out assigned tasks.  Your organization wants to allow your volunteers to select the best strategies for involvement.  Inform your volunteers of opportunities, make it easy for them to sign up, and log their time for their involvement.  Sending communication to confirm participation and reminders of the upcoming opportunity will also keep your volunteer informed and on the job.


Volunteer Recognition

Thanking your volunteers is always good practice.  Recognition should be a top priority in your management plan.  Whatever your best practice may be, be sure you are consistent reminding your hardworking volunteers that they are valued.

Developing and sticking to a volunteer management process that works for your organization is worth the time and effort.  A strategic process can improve relations with volunteers, increase retention rates, foster engagements, and reduce the management efforts of volunteers.  Your volunteers will learn your process and steps for volunteering and promote the benefits and features of volunteering.  Guiding these individuals are volunteer managers who help volunteers thrive by channeling their passions and skills.