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Volunteer management


written byCoaliția pentru Voluntariat

If you have met any of the Coalition for Volunteering founders in the last…. 15 years - you have certainly heard them talking about the famous 9-Step Volunteer Management System, at least once.

We didn't invent it, but we thought it was relevant and useful, and it suits us, so we picked it up from colleagues in the UK and the United States, who developed it in the 1970s, gradually adjusting it. This is what we also did, we adopted the way of thinking systemically about the involvement of volunteers, and we adapted the 9 steps to the context and needs of the volunteer sector in Romania.

Volunteer management must be seen as a process, a systemic and long-term approach, through which the organization manages to capture and capitalize on the presence of volunteers. If we have efficient management of volunteers, its success is clearly seen in the positive impact on the beneficiaries or our cause and in the satisfaction of the volunteers involved. In most cases, this is reflected in their loyalty.


Which are the 9 steps in volunteer management?


  1. Preparing the organization for the involvement of volunteers

This is the preparatory, planning stage, which involves some changes in the documents, the attitudes within the organization and the way of working. It involves: declaring volunteering as a value of the organization; analyzing of the organization's needs in terms of volunteer involvement; elaborating a set of policies/procedures for working with volunteers; appointment/hiring a volunteer coordinator - as required by the Volunteering Act; drafting the necessary documents; allocating a budget for the involvement of volunteers.

  1. Recruitment of volunteers

Volunteer recruitment is the process by which the organization attracts and invites people to get involved in volunteer activities. Careful volunteer recruitment planning in close connection with the development of volunteer selection procedures and based on the organization's needs analysis will lead to the recruitment of those volunteers that the organization needs to carry out the proposed activities and fulfill its mission.

  1. Selection of volunteers

Volunteer selection refers to the process of finding the right volunteer for the organization's activities and finding or creating the right activities for volunteers who come to the organization and do not fit into any existing position, where appropriate. The activity of selecting volunteers is closely linked to the activity of recruitment, and the clear determination of volunteers roles in the organization must take into account certain criteria that are essential for the success of the activities.

  1. Volunteers orientation and training

The orientation or welcome session is an opportunity for the volunteer, not only to get acquainted with the organization and its concrete activities but also to understand elements of the organizational culture and even to know the existing training possibilities. The orientation session must answer a few simple questions that anyone asks when they want to join an organization: why get involved? how to get involved? Who will I work with? What is expected of me?

  The volunteering law calls the initial training the orientation stage and shows us that it must include:

  • the structure, mission and activities of the host organization;
  • the rights and responsibilities of the volunteer;
  • internal regulations governing the involvement of the volunteer.

Unlike guidance, which is mandatory (even the Voluntary Law mentions it explicitly, under the name of initial training), the training or training phase of volunteers is an optional one. Do we turn to it if we need to train those we involve - do they or do they not need specific skills or competencies to fulfill their role? If so and if we have the necessary resources, we will also organize training sessions for our volunteers.

  1. The supervision of volunteers

Once the volunteers have been recruited, selected, task-oriented and eventually trained, the activity can begin! From this point on, the ongoing task of supervising their work begins, which belongs to the volunteer coordinator. He must ensure that the involvement of volunteers in the program is normal, that the work objectives are achieved in a timely manner and at optimal quality parameters, that the team is united and has no internal conflicts, that volunteers feel good, can receive and provide feedback and feel that they are truly developing and/or contributing. These topics are included in volunteer supervision meetings - regular or on-demand, planned or spontaneous, individual or group.

  1. Monitoring the volunteers' involvement

Monitoring is essential if we want to have data about what our volunteers do, the size of the volunteer component in our organization, but also about the effects of volunteer presence. We can find out the concrete results only in the evaluation stage, but we can rely only on the data we have monitored. This monitoring or accumulation of data can be done both by the volunteer coordinator and by the volunteers. They can keep track of the hours in which they are involved, the results of their actions, the number of beneficiaries, etc.

  1. The evaluation of programs and volunteers

In the evaluation process, we really find out: What did we manage to achieve compared to what we initially set out to do? What beneficial changes have we made in the community? How did our volunteer program work? What went well? What else can be improved? How did the volunteers feel and how did they develop during this time? What is their degree of satisfaction and how satisfied are the beneficiaries of working with them?

To find out these things, we need to think from the first step which of them are relevant to us, in order to be able to plan effective monitoring of the information.

Access to concrete data and clear, measurable results can also help us to draw public support for initiating, continuing or supporting future activities.

  1. Recognition of the volunteers' merits

Recognizing volunteers' merits is not just an event, a gift, or an award given to volunteers as a reward for their contribution - it is a process, an attitude that must exist in everything that happens in the organization to attract, inspire and maintain the motivation of volunteers. The key is to identify each person's needs so that they can provide exactly what is most important to the volunteer or team of volunteers involved. Therefore, the merits of recognition and the effectiveness of this process will depend on the volunteer coordinator’s creativity and the organization’s commitment in terms of appreciating the volunteers' involvement.

  1. Motivating the volunteers

Volunteer motivation is what the organization does to create for volunteers all the conditions for the optimal development of their activity and to achieve the highest possible degree of satisfaction in their role as volunteers. Volunteer motivation (internal or external) is what drives the volunteer to get involved. Volunteer motivation and motivating the volunteers are two sides of the same coin.

In order to motivate volunteers, the volunteer coordinator must take into account the complexity and diversity of the reasons that led them to devote their time and skills.

It is perhaps the most complex step in the entire volunteer management process, the one that generates the most questions and dilemmas. We tell you just a secret: motivation is not about what you do now, or at a certain point in the interaction with volunteers, but it is a constant concern, a mix of methods, techniques, actions, and attitudes that together can increase the volunteers' motivation to stay with you.

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