Category Archives: Volunteers

How to Choose a Volunteer Position That Fits You

On a couple of occasions, I have posted about the benefits of being a volunteer. (75 Reasons to Volunteer, 7 Reasons to Volunteer) If you want to make a difference in your community and in your own life, volunteering is the way to go.

Once you’ve decided that you would like to give something back to your community, how decide if a volunteer opportunity is right for you? Create a “shopping list” of things you like to gain from your volunteer experience. What features are essential? What would be ideal if you were designing the volunteer job of your dreams?

Ask yourself these questions when considering a volunteer experience:

  • Does the volunteer role match my interests and values?
  • Am I comfortable with the people I will be helping and the people I will be working with?
  • Will I be able to learn or sharpen my skills?
  • Will I get orientation and training?
  • Will I be able to use some of my own ideas?
  • Does the opportunity fit the amount of time I can give?
  • Is it at a time convenient to me?
  • Does it require a short- or long-term commitment from me?
  • Is there opportunity for advancement or more challenge?
  • Is it in a location I can get to?
  • Are there any expenses like transportation, parking or admission?
  • Does the experience provide me with a written evaluation?
  • Will I get a reference if I do a good job?

Volunteering is a win-win experience. And when you find a volunteer role that’s right for you, everyone comes out ahead.

Free or Low-Cost ways to reward employees

Everyone likes to be appreciated!

This sounds like it should be common sense, but it doesn’t always translate to common action. This is especially true in non-profit organizations. There is an assumption that using rewards to show employee appreciation costs money; and money is generally in short supply in a non-profit. There are however, many ways to show appreciation and reward employees that cost little or nothing.

Bob Nelson, co-founder of the National Association for Employee Recognition, is passionate about recognizing and rewarding employees, and, more importantly, doesn’t believe it needs to cost much (or anything!) to do it effectively. His doctoral research focused on why managers do or don’t use praise or recognition with employees, and he has done research with employees to determine what has the most impact on them.

His book, 1001 Ways to Reward Employees: 100’s of New Ways to Praise! Revised & Updated 2nd Edition (aff), is full of simple, time-tested ways (1001) for rewarding employees, ways any manager in any organization can add to their arsenal.

Nelson lists three key principles for employee recognition:

  • Match the reward to the person
  • Match the reward to the achievement
  • Be timely and specific

If you are looking for free or inexpensive ways to reward and recognize your employees, this book is a great resource.

By-the-way: it’s also works for volunteer appreciation.

6 Steps for Recruiting Volunteers

Volunteers play a critical role in the operations of non-profit organizations and NGOs. For many organizations, volunteers can make the difference between successfully delivering services or program or falling short of their goals.

However, it is becoming more difficult to recruit volunteers. More people are expressing a lack of time are a reason they don’t volunteer. Additionally, more organizations are in the market for volunteers.

What kinds of things can your NGO/non-profit organization do to maximize your recruiting efforts? Here are six steps for recruiting volunteers.

1. Recruit

Write a job description and post on:

  • Volunteer Websites
  • Your organization’s website, or social media pages such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
  • Include it in your regular newsletter, whether electronic or paper.
  • Ask current committee members to circulate the posting or suggest potential names.

2. Find out what attracts a new volunteer

What sorts of things motivate people to volunteer? Understanding their needs will help you better match them to the volunteer opportunities you have. Perhaps they have a:

  • need to network with peers
  • desire to better understand local markets
  • need to give back to the profession
  • wish to enhance their career
  • need for appreciation and recognition
  • need to belong

3. Select

Interview them like you would a prospective employee. The interview is an important component to the comprehensive volunteer screening process and allow both the organization and the potential volunteer to make informed decisions about participation.

The selection process should also include reference checks and any background checks that would be considered standard for the services your organization provides. E.g., a vulnerable sector check if you service vulnerable individuals.

4. Orient and train your volunteer

In order to be effective, volunteers need to receive adequate orientation and training. Orientation familiarizes volunteers with your organization’s policies and procedures and will help them to act in alignment with your organization’s mission and values. Training helps ensure that volunteers can perform their roles effectively and minimizes potential risks posed to themselves and others.

5. Manage

A volunteer’s schedule will look different from that of staff. Generally, they are giving of their spare time. Manage the expectations up-front. Create a schedule that is mutually beneficial to the organization and to the volunteer.

6. Recognize and reward

Volunteers are motivated by much the same things that motivate all of us:  praise, affiliation, accomplishment, power and influence. Remember to say thank you to your volunteers.  Say it often.  Say it publicly.  Say it with sincerity. And, hold formal events that recognize the hard work and contributions of your volunteers. Take time to focus on them.

There are challenges that make it difficult to recruit and retain the active volunteers needed to serve the community’s needs. But with determination, focus and strategy, volunteer-run organizations can find those individuals willing to influence their cause.