I am saddened to hear about the closure of Volunteer Hamilton, which has been a staple in that community for many year, this did not sit well with me, hence this article on what I believe volunteer programs need to focus on to successfully recruit, engage and support the more than 12 million volunteers in Canada.
As an educator, consultant and workshop facilitator in the field of volunteer leadership, I see that there are still gaps in the spectrum of volunteer engagement and many of those gaps can be removed through educating and supporting volunteer programs in a strategic manner.
Here are some of my personal thoughts on what success looks like and some foundational steps that need to be addressed by non-profit organizations.
Look at the trends in volunteerism: What is not what is…. the world is changing rapidly and the expectations of volunteers are changing too. Volunteers what flexibility, mobility, technological support, and opportunities to be engaged but to learn as well.
- Volunteers want to see the impact: Volunteer programs need to understand and be able to translate into quantitative and qualitative content and share that content with the volunteers so that they truly understand how they make a difference
- Volunteer programs need to be more flexible: Staff needs to develop volunteer assignments that are reflective of the community needs now and consider the skills needed to fulfill the roles.
- Invest time and money into your volunteer strategy: If you don’t have one…create one, Senior leadership needs to ensure that their staff and leadership volunteers are educated on the best practices and principles of volunteer engagement and understand where they fit into the cycle.
- Board and committee members need to embrace not only the value of volunteerism brings to the organization but the costs as well: Volunteer administrators need to be educated and provided with tools and resources to build “creative and cutting edge” volunteer programs.
- Technology is key to recruitment and volunteer onboarding: Look to your website to ensure that you are communicated the right messages about volunteerism. Provide tools and resources on your website pages about recruitment, onboarding and benefits of volunteer involvement. Ensure that you are focusing on target recruitment and potential partnerships, focussing on a recruitment strategy that will reach the right audience.
- Engage volunteer management experts to fill in the gaps: There is a lot of value in engaging an outside expert to assess and help mobilize your resources to ensure that you are getting the “best bang for the buck”.
- Follow the Canadian Code of Volunteer Involvement that is available at Volunteer Canada: Ensure that you have created a volunteer engagement strategy that embraces diversity, creativity and best practices including due diligence to both strengthen the existing program and reach for the stars and be an organization that volunteers want to be involved in.
Finally, at the minimum, ensure that volunteer engagement and best practices are ongoing discussions at all levels of the organization and not just an annual presentation to the Board. Volunteer programs can be a precious jewel in your organization, but you need to treasure and protect it so that it can sparkle the way it was meant to.
If you have any questions, or interested in consulting, advice or a workshops contact me at email@example.com and see what workshops we offer at lorigotliebconsulting.wordpress.com.
Make this a priority for the New Year!!!!!