Volunteer management: How to effectively manage volunteers

Key takeaways

  • Good volunteer management is essential for better volunteer retention, engagement and overall impact.
  • Volunteer management requires different skills than managing paid staff.
  • Volunteers need some form of structure and focus, but they also want to be engaged and involved.
  • Developing the right roles, recruiting the right people, and providing the right support are essential for good volunteer management.
  • Recognition and appreciation are critical components of volunteer management.
  • Consider using a volunteer management system to optimise volunteer management.

Volunteer management is a complex process that requires patience, endurance, and interpersonal skills. As a volunteer manager, you need to understand the roles, responsibilities, and motivations of your volunteers to create a meaningful experience. Here are some tips for effective volunteer management:

Can anyone manage volunteers?

Yes, but not everyone can manage volunteers well. Managing volunteers requires patience, interpersonal skills, endurance, and resilience. Volunteer management is different from managing paid staff because volunteers work for a sense of fulfilment and satisfaction.

Isn’t managing volunteers just the same as managing paid staff?

No, managing volunteers is different from managing paid staff. Volunteer managers engage people to make the world a better place, without the promise of riches or rewards.

Do volunteers need managing?

Yes, volunteers need some form of structure and focus. Good volunteer management involves leading, involving, and engaging volunteers.

What are the best practices to manage a team of volunteers?

Clear communication, understanding of roles and responsibilities, providing regular updates, showing appreciation, and soliciting feedback are essential for effective volunteer management. A welcoming and inclusive environment is key to successful volunteer team management.

So, what actually makes a good volunteer manager?

Develop the right roles

Create meaningful roles that align with the availability, motivations, and skills of volunteers. Good roles motivate volunteers and improve volunteer engagement.

Quick tip — Focus on developing great roles before you recruit to save time and effort.

Recruit the right people

Recruit volunteers with the right skills and motivations to do specific roles. Diverse audiences provide better opportunities for finding the right people.

Quick tip — Seek the right people, but also be open and inclusive to a wide range of potential volunteers.

Give the right support

Provide the right support and resources for volunteers to achieve their goals. Volunteer support differs from volunteer to volunteer, so ensure you are available and accessible.

Quick tip — Build a good relationship with your volunteers and show genuine concern for them.

Give good recognition

Good recognition acknowledges volunteers as being an important part of the team. Daily thanks you’s and the little things make volunteers feel included.

Quick tip — Tailor recognition efforts to suit different volunteers and know what thanks you’s work best.

Consider using a volunteer management system

Volunteer management systems are an easy way to centralise volunteer data, manage shifts, store documents and improve overall volunteer engagement.

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