New Year and New Challenges and Opportunities: What are volunteer programs challenged with and what are opportunities they should explore

Have you taken time to take stock of what you find challenging in managing a volunteer program? Do your colleagues face the same? Are there some common challenges that have arisen that are common for our field? What are some of the opportunities that we can embrace to address some of these challenges?

Below is a list of what I think are a few rising or persistent challenges and some opportunities that are worth addressing this year.

Maybe this is an opportunity to build some short term and long term strategies to address these.


  • Recruitment and succession planning
  • Technology
  • Staff and volunteer relations
  • Risk
  • Looking at roles that impact clients and how to work with staff
  • Competition
  • Types of volunteers and roles (retention)
  • Communication
  • Internal and external engagement
  • Building partnerships both internal and external
  • Raising the profile through innovation
  • Using social media to attract different volunteers
  • Collaboration through team building
  • Using tools to measure activities and evaluate the cost
  • Using technology to educate volunteers, staff and patients
  • Working with programs  and management to raise internal profile

Ideas for strategies:

Review existing program and supports, gaps and opportunities (SWAT)
Build a succession plan for volunteer engagement including coaching and mentorship
Take a pulse
Survey and focus groups
Look for networking opportunities and look for best practices amongst your peers
Intensify your marketing and presence to encourage volunteer engagement
Develop more education and training opportunities for life long learning for volunteers
Look for ways to develop more cross program, department and organizational collaboration
Be innovative and creative, how do you know things won’t work unless you try
Be persistent and methodological…..remember the hare and the tortoise
If you need any help, feel free to reach out to me at
Happy planning

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