A Personal Journey to Excellence in Nonprofit Leadership and Management Part 7 of 8: Volunteer Management
One of the greatest gifts you can give is your time; and through getting a Certificate of Excellence in Nonprofit Leadership and Management by the Society for Nonprofits and Michigan State University, I was able to learn how to be more strategic in supporting others to give back for the long-term.
My seventh course was on volunteer management, which is often a missing management topic, but critical to the successful recruitment and retention of volunteers.
Here are the top four lessons I learned:
- Following Your Passion. People volunteer not because they necessarily have the time, but because they are passionate about a specific cause. That’s why it’s critical for nonprofits to articulate a vision for what volunteering means for the organization and the people it serves. But with that vision, organizations must also allocate resources and build a volunteer work design (e.g. job descriptions), so volunteers have meaningful projects and assignments.
- Changing the world will always need volunteers. But, how do you find them for your nonprofit? It is key to identify why people will or will not volunteer for your organization, and then determine where you are most likely to find the most desirable candidates. Once you have an idea, conduct “mini-campaigns” to publicize and market the opportunities. Make sure to consider relevant economic, social, and cultural trends in your community that may have an impact on volunteering.
- Confidence comes from training. Recruiting people to be volunteers isn’t the end, it is just the beginning. For your organization’s volunteers to be successful (and to retain them for the long haul), you need to invest in their orientation and training. This includes creating a positive environment for your organization’s paid employee-volunteer relationship. Be sure to articulate why both teams are important.
- Can I get a whoop! whoop!? People remain volunteers if they can see they are making a difference, but also if they feel appreciated. Giving sincere recognition is equally as important to designing meaningful work and creating a welcoming environment for volunteer retention.
As communicators, we tap in to the needs and wants of our target audiences daily. The same is needed when recruiting and retaining desirable volunteers. One component of this is using language that attracts; going beyond the word “volunteer” channeling the emotions of the organization’s overarching vision—think about language referring to “activism,” “movements” or “community service.
Next and final, we’re going to continue to learn about the importance of teams through strategic alliances.
Please be sure to read about each step of my Personal Journey to Excellence in Nonprofit Leadership and Management: