Many nonprofit organizations use volunteers to fill a variety of roles. It is important to make sure your volunteers are engaged and supported. Here are some ways you can ensure that your organization is recruiting and using its volunteers effectively.
You’ll have better luck finding good volunteers if you come up with a process similar to that of finding paid staff. The first step is to write a position description, similar to one for a paid position. Have the applicants submit a resume and any pertinent work samples.
You’ll also want to include an interview and screening process.
Volunteer recruitment sites
- Volunteer Match
- Boston Cares
- Commonwealth of Massachusetts
- Recruiting Volunteers – Three Approaches – About.com
- Volunteer Recruitment – Free Management Library
Once you have selected volunteers, make sure you provide an orientation and training so they know what is expected of them, become familiar with the work environment, and meet everyone in your organization.
- Training Design and Content – Energize Inc
- Training Volunteers and Professional Development – Volunteer Today
It can be helpful to provide your volunteers with a handbook that includes policies and information about the organization. It can be similar to an employee handbook.
- Creating an Orientation Manual for Volunteers A Template for Non-Profit Organizations – Volunteer Centre of Camrose and District
A workplan is very helpful, especially for long-term volunteers. It should clearly spell out what is expected of the volunteer and include goals and deadlines. The volunteer should meet with his or her supervisor on a regular basis to go over the workplan.
It’s very important that your volunteers feel appreciated for the work they do. After all, they made a choice to donate their time to help your cause. There are many ways you can recognize your volunteers – from a simple thank you each time they come in to an annual recognition event.
Even though this link references National Volunteer Week, you shouldn’t wait until then to show appreciation.
- Ways to Show Appreciation During National Volunteer Week – VolunteerMatch
- 139 Ways to Say “Thank-You” and Recognize Volunteers – Ohio State University Extension
Even if you find great volunteers, it can sometimes be hard to keep them. If you follow the practices listed above and keep your volunteers engaged, involved, and supported, you’ll have a much better chance of them staying with you long-term.
- Nonprofit Volunteers: Top Five Tips to Keep Them Coming – Nolo
- How to Maintain Volunteers for a Nonprofit Organization – eHow
AmeriCorps and other service learning programs
Your organization might want to consider applying to obtain AmeriCorps members. These members generally serve full-time for a year and receive a small stipend.
- Corporation for National and Community Service – Which Program Is Right for Our Organization?
- Commonwealth Corps is a similar program in Massachusetts