411-Volunteer Management

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.

Recruiting volunteers

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 training

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.

Volunteer handbook

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.


Volunteer workplan

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.


Volunteer recognition

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.

Retaining volunteers

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.

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.

Other volunteer management resources