Just like another well-known volunteer organisation with that slogan, your organisation needs to be prepared. It needs to know why it wants to involve volunteers in its work, how volunteer positions fit and be ready to receive willing volunteers when contacted.
The benefits of being organised and ready for volunteers are plentiful:
Success builds on success?
effective volunteer programs attract volunteers.
Overall volunteer management is comprised of several pieces including:
The Volunteer Role Description
A "Role Description" is a great tool that helps everyone involved in the volunteer program. A good description will clarify a number of key points that will help both the program co-ordinator and the volunteer understand what is needed from the person filling that position.
Key components of a good "Role Description" will include:
Be as specific and realistic as possible when developing the role description. An accurate description will:
There are two main types of recruitment: targeted and untargeted.
Both of these types of recruitment can be successful and are used by non-profit groups. An organisation may choose one, both or a combination of both methods at different times, depending on what is appropriate to the volunteer assignment or project at hand.
For example, untargeted recruitment might be the logical choice for a project like preparing Christmas hampers where many people are needed for a short period of time and no significant training is involved. When that same organisation is seeking new board members they may opt for targeted recruiting, seeking to attract volunteers with specific skills such as fundraising abilities or legal expertise.
A possible disadvantage of targeted recruitment is that it may be labour intensive, as you seek to find and match the right volunteer for a specific job.
A possible disadvantage of untargeted recruitment is that your campaign may be very successful (imagine!). But think about it?are you prepared for a large number of potential volunteers - not knowing their inclinations, skills or preferences? Will you be able to sort it all out and juggle to make everyone fit? Or be prepared to turn some volunteers away? Are you ready for those possibilities?
Based on experience, your organisation may have developed a preference for particular recruitment methods that have a track record of success. If so, that's great. It means you have found the right balance in your ongoing recruitment process and have loyal volunteers to show for it. Your current volunteers may, in fact, be helping attract new volunteers. Congratulations! Satisfied volunteers are the greatest recruitment tool in existence and are the reward of good volunteer
Screening is an important part of the volunteer selection process, especially so for organisations which provide services to vulnerable people such as children, the disabled or the elderly.
Volunteer screening serves two main purposes:
A good screening process will incorporate a variety of steps and not rely on any one method or measure. Screening is part of an entire picture of risk management within an organisation whereby potential risks are identified, assessed and controlled in a manner that is as realistic and reasonable as possible.
Some of the things that can be done as part of the screening process are:
Policies & Procedures
Your organisation may already have policies and procedures in place about screening volunteers and staff or about risk management, in general.
Formal policies and procedures give clear guidelines for decision-making and instruction on how to carry through or act on decisions made. In the areas of screening and risk management, having such policies and procedures in place offers tangible proof that an organisation is diligent - it demonstrates that thoughtful consideration has been given to these issues and steps taken to minimize risk and harm.
Before You Hire
Ten Essential Questions to Ask a Potential Volunteer
1. How did you find out about this volunteer opportunity?
2. Have you given your time previously as a volunteer?
3. Why do you want to volunteer with this organisation?
4. What would you like to get out of the volunteer experience?
5. What are your interests?
6. What skills, abilities, and qualities do you have to contribute to the organisation?
7. How long do you think you would like to be involved with our program?
8. Do you have any special needs?
9. Are you prepared to attend training and/or a information sessions?
10. Are you prepared to undergo screening an/or a background check for our safety, your safety and our clients' safety?
Orientation & Training
How are volunteers welcomed to their new work?
Orientation is part of the welcome for a volunteer. It shows volunteers where they fit in to the organisation and gives them practical information they will need to function effectively.
Some of the things an orientation package may include are:
A sound orientation process will pay off in a variety of ways that include:
Training is often one of the most appreciated benefits a volunteer can receive. It can be a great motivator, keeping people interested and challenged, as well as enhancing skills.
Developing training sessions that can be undertaken by a group can also be a good team-building exercise, giving people an opportunity to interact in a context different from the usual work tasks.
Training does not have to be expensive. Look at local resources, including your own volunteers! A working lunch once a month with a guest speaker sharing their expertise on a relevant topic is an informal and effective way to offer training. Watch a video together as a group and discuss it later. Take a field trip to visit local places that are relevant to the work you are doing.
Training sometimes gets put to one side in a non-profit group with limited resources, as people struggle to meet everyday demands and pressures of "getting the job done". It is, however, one of the most critical investments an organisation can make in its people and its quality of service.
Appreciation & Recognition
Appreciation and recognition of your volunteers is a critical piece of any volunteer program.
Volunteers are not free. Even if you do not currently have a budget line for volunteer appreciation, there is an investment made by the organisation that includes all the preparation, planning and ongoing support required to effectively manage the people who are your volunteer resources.
Methods of appreciation and recognition can vary widely. It can be formal or informal, public recognition or personal thanks, costly or absolutely free.
Appreciation needs to be tailored for the individual?
Different types of appreciation and recognition include:
South Dublin County Volunteer Centre