3 tips for better volunteer management

August 13, 2014

3 tips for better volunteer management

Volunteers are one of the greatest resources nonprofits can utilize. They donate their valuable time and efforts to maintain and improve the success of a nonprofit's mission. Additionally, the hard work of volunteers provides a big help to many organizations because they ease stress from staff members, allowing them to focus on other tasks they do best. Having an active, happy and engaged volunteer base can help individual projects become more successful and efficient, while also reducing stress on an already overworked group of employees.

Because volunteers are so valuable, being able to effectively manage them is crucial for many nonprofits. Here are three pieces of advice for keeping volunteers happy and motivated:

  1. Make information as complete as possible: For someone who works day in and day out at a nonprofit, it's easy to overlook the small details that are involved with giving volunteers instructions. In a list of tips for successfully managing volunteers, the Case Foundation suggested making sure the small things are sorted out ahead of time. This can include a variety of concepts and ideas, depending on what the specific event or task is. A few common concerns are where to park for an event, or which employee or organizer to look for upon arrival. Providing a clear set of instructions for getting to the venue makes participation that much easier.
  2. Provide a few basic amenities: A small outlay in terms of time and effort can make volunteers truly feel appreciated. Having some water available during a hot day of outside work or coffee for an early morning event are two good examples of this approach. Telling volunteers what to bring and what will be provided to them can help keep them focused and avoid early departures due to a forgotten lunch or bottle of water. Having something available for volunteers when they're taking a break, even if it's a token amenity, will help them feel more valued.
  3. Provide a look at the small and large outcomes: : Tying in the work at a specific event, or duties an office volunteer performs, to the outcome of achieving a nonprofit's mission is an important part of successful management. Nonprofit contribution management site DonationPay suggests this approach is especially effective when volunteers are performing less-exciting but necessary tasks, such as stuffing envelopes or monitoring entry and exit at an event.

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