Volunteer resources management is the development and implementation of strategies to attract and keep volunteers.  Key elements include defining tasks with the volunteer’s needs in mind, writing clear job descriptions, and finding specific ways to recognize the efforts of volunteers.  Successful relationships with volunteers are important for any arts organization:  In small organizations where volunteers perform most if not all tasks; it is crucial.  And volunteers give the organization more than a means to get immediate tasks done.  They are the future leaders of the organization.

To attract volunteers, your organization needs to match its requirements with those of potential volunteers.  People today have many demands on their time.  They look for a volunteer commitment that has limited time requirements and flexible hours.  They seek organizations where the benefit of their work to the organization, the community, and themselves is clear.  When defining volunteer jobs, break tasks down to accommodate time concerns, if possible.  Understand how the program and the volunteer’s job relates to the purpose of your organization.  Communicate this to potential volunteers in a job description.

A volunteer job description is a good tool to use to recruit volunteers.  Along with the purpose statement and time requirements, it specifies the responsibilities and necessary skills.  It also contains information on the support or training provided by your organization and the person who is the contact for the volunteer.  The job description clarifies what is expected by the organization and agreed upon by the volunteer.

Showing appreciation to volunteers can be done in many ways.  More formal ones include a special party, awards and certificates of appreciation.  Less formal ones include thank you letters, t-shirts or reduced ticket prices.  When deciding how to recognize a volunteer, make it as personal as possible.  Small ways of showing thanks can keep volunteers for your organization.

A good starting place for managing volunteer resources is to develop job descriptions for key volunteer positions like committee chairs.  It is best if the person who now fills the position is primarily responsible for writing the description.

Adapted from the Missouri Association of Community Arts Agencies
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