Practical advice for providing your volunteers with the best experience possible
Successful volunteer engagement doesn’t just happen. Volunteers aren’t generally beating down your door, begging to serve your organization or ministry. Volunteers may bring a wealth of education or experience, but they still need to learn about your mission and procedures. Volunteers are ‘donating’ their time and energy to serve your organization, but other needs and priorities can suddenly surface in their lives. These are just some of the realities and challenges that go with creating and maintaining a positive environment for your team of volunteers.
ServiceLink, the Volunteer Services program of the Christian Reformed Church in North America, has prepared this series of ‘Successful Volunteer Engagement’ articles. Based on advice from experts in the field of volunteer management and engagement, these brief articles are intended to help you better understand your volunteers, their needs and motivations, and to tailor your volunteer program to effectively recruit, train, supervise and recognize your volunteer workforce. Many of the principles and suggestions outlined in these articles can also be applied to the recruitment and encouragement of volunteers within the church.
This series is divided into the topic headings listed below. Each article is just a brief summary of the most important principles for a segment of the volunteer engagement cycle. Additional resources and training, including workshops focused on one or more topics, is available from ServiceLink.
Before filling any volunteer position you must clearly define what the volunteer is expected to do. The first article in this Volunteer Engagement Series helps you to design job descriptions for new or existing volunteer positions.
2 - Recruitment
Who to look for, where to find them
Once you have defined the volunteer position you need to fill, how do you get the message to qualified candidates?
- Recruitment Marketing Checklist - ways to find volunteers
No longer can you simply accept any and every potential volunteer who walks through your doorway. For insurance and legal reasons, you must carry out due diligence in your volunteer approval process.
- Click here to read an article from 'Volunteer Canada' on the value of screening volunteers.
Once you have agreed to accept a volunteer, you can’t just drop them into the culture of your organization, and certain tasks to be performed by the volunteer may require training.
Volunteers both need and expect to be treated in a professional manner. How do you supervise without ‘babysitting’, and what is the most effective way to evaluate volunteer performance?
While all the previous steps in this series are intended to help your organization or ministry to achieve positive volunteer relations, occasionally problems do arise and volunteers need to be disciplined or dismissed. How do you go about doing this without harming the reputation of your ministry or organization, and maintaining morale among staff and other volunteers?
What are your volunteers looking for? Understanding their motives and needs will not only make for a better workplace environment, but it will also contribute to volunteer retention and will enhance your organization’s reputation as a positive place for serving as a volunteer.
- Looking for some practical tips for recognizing volunteers within your church. Check out these 10 Tips for Recognizing Church Volunteers.pdf.
The following organizations host websites with extensive information, including many downloadable guides, resources and best practices, for effective and successful volunteer engagement.