Recognize Volunteers as Non-Paid Staff
In developing and implementing volunteer programs, be sure to recognize volunteers as non-paid staff members. Such recognition is the basic requirement to the success of any volunteer program. Failing to recognize volunteers as non-paid staff sends the message that the volunteer program is low priority and of little importance to the organization.
Define Your Agency Needs
Volunteers are often recruited before their function has been defined. Paid staff are always hired for specific needs. If volunteers are recognized as non-paid staff, then they too should be “hired” based on a specific need. Agencies create real frustration and hard feelings in well-meaning volunteers if they recruit volunteers who really aren’t needed in agency programs and who are not given opportunity to make a valuable contribution to the organization.
Write Volunteer Job Descriptions
If real needs for volunteers exist in an agency, they can easily be transferred to written volunteer job descriptions. Each volunteer job description should include a position title, name of supervisor, time commitment, qualifications, required training, and specific duties.
Interview All Volunteers
Spend the time interviewing potential volunteers to make sure they have the right skill, aptitude, and demeanor for the job. No supervisor would hire a new paid employee without first interviewing each applicant in order to select the individual best-suited to the position.
Accept Only Qualified Volunteers
When an agency has taken time to think through and write out job descriptions that include the necessary qualifications for each volunteer position. Accepting only qualified volunteers who have been carefully interviewed on the basis of written volunteer descriptions will greatly enhance the success of the volunteer program.
Provide Training and Supervision
Supervision and training of volunteers is perhaps the weakest aspect of most volunteer programs. If there is a need, defined by a job description, then training and supervision will be planned for. Volunteers who are well-trained and well-supervised will be much more effective contributors to agency goals than those who must learn on their own without training and supervision.
Recognize and Thank Volunteers
Volunteers are non-paid staff. They obviously do not work for a monetary reward. Yet they must obtain something for their time and effort. They must feel that that time and effort are important to the organization. Personal recognition is very important to volunteers. Let volunteers know that they are making a real contribution to the organization. The easiest way to do this is by saying “thank you” to the individual volunteers.
Adapted from the Missouri Association of Community Arts Agencies
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