There has been a lot of media on volunteering , helping others, giving back and being part of the community over the past couple of months. This is great and as I have mentioned in previous blogs we need to keep this dialogue going throughout the year, not just during the holiday season. The more we talk about volunteering, and all the benefits involved, the higher the profile becomes. That being said, there is an area that does not get a lot of press, and that is the dedicated and talented administrators of volunteers that build these programs. Volunteerism does not happen on its own. There needs to be a leader that drives the activities. Someone needs to make sure that positions are appropriate, that all risk has been assessed, that it is marketed to the right people, that the appropriate screening, orientation and training is done and especially that there is a recognition program in place. Many organizations have dedicated staff to lead these activities but there are still organizations that don’t, and even further there are organizations that have staff with dual roles that do volunteer management off the side of their desk.
if we want to raise the profile of volunteerism and volunteer management, we need to have staff with volunteer management experience and education to not just coordinate or manage volunteer programs but also lead change, be at the table during strategic planning. These leaders need to have advocate for volunteerism so that volunteers are part of the planning and there is a proactive approach to engagement vs a response to gaps in resources.
What does this mean…..well first
Administrators of volunteers need to have the resources and budget to manage a program
Administrators need to keep up with education and workshops and research to assess the changing environments
Senior leadership needs to engage the expertise of these leaders in planning
Build a mentorship or coaching program for your staff
Review the Canadian Code of Volunteer Involvement, to see where your gaps are and make a plan to fill them
Volunteerism should be weaved into the strategic plans
if you are not sure about the effectiveness of your volunteer program….maybe it is worth taking a step back and assessing the program to see where there are opportunities and obstacles.
It always surprises me that a program that has huge impact and feeds the bottom line is the program that is kept in the back room. Some of these ideas are challenging but I encourage you to take the challenge and push the envelope of volunteer management. The results will be worth the work, satisfied and engaged staff and volunteers who are making a measurable impact and that will give you a huge return on investment.
if you need any advice….feel free to reach out here or at firstname.lastname@example.org