Categories: Best Practices, Engagement, Managing for Stakeholders, NGOs, Non-Governmental Organisations NGOs, Non-Profit project management, NPOs, Social Good, Stakeholder Management, Volunteers
You’ve recognized that your non-profit organization (NPO) or non-governmental organization (NGO) needs volunteers to help transform your ideas to outcomes. The organization’s program may require the volunteers to co-locate to work on a complex project or to collaborate in a virtual team environment. No matter where volunteers perform their work, it is important to remember why they perform their work.
Volunteers join an organization because they share the interest and passion advocated by the NGO or NPO. As valuable stakeholders and resources for the organization, it is critical that considerations are made for keeping the volunteer engaged.
Here are 9 Quick Tips to build Volunteer Management Practice into your organizations.
Welcoming, On-boarding, and Integrating
- Practice timely communication from day one. Connect with a prospective volunteer once he/she reaches out with interest of joining the organization. This illustrates the norms of the organization and helps set expectations for new volunteers.
- Orient new volunteers to the organization. Provide training on the culture, structure, relevant processes, policies, and role descriptions of the organization. Early knowledge of key stakeholders will facilitate integration in the organization.
- Establish a support network for new members. Provide opportunities for current and new volunteers to build camaraderie and establish trust. The shared vision towards a common goal can serve as a foundation for developing a positive working environment.
Roles and Responsibilities
- Be specific in your request for help. Let volunteers know the specific knowledge, skills, and attributes you are looking for them to bring to the table.
- Clearly communicate each volunteer’s function, level of authority, and assigned tasks. Eliminating duplicative efforts is an efficient use of resources. It also helps to mitigate the risk of individual volunteers completing work that is not aligned with organizational goals or objectives.
- Trust your delegation. Once an assignment is given to the volunteer, continue to check-in on the progress, but resist the urge to micromanage or take over the assignment.
Rewards, Recognition, Motivation
- Acknowledge the contributions of the volunteers. It is important for the volunteer to know that individual efforts make a difference in the operations of the organization. Additionally, it is also lets funders and other stakeholders know about the type, quantity, and quality of work that is being done by volunteer support.
- Support information exchange. Freely share information on the progress of the organization’s programs and the impact the programs are having on the community being served. Ask volunteers for their input and opinions on the organization and their experience.
- Encourage continuous engagement. When possible, make a range of opportunities available that are flexible to fit within the volunteers’ schedules. Use general meetings, teleconferences, social outings, etc. as ways to keep volunteers connected to the organization when there are limited or no volunteer opportunities currently available.
The relationship between volunteers and NGOs/NPOs should be one of reciprocity. Project management professionals often volunteer to contribute to the solutions of today’s world problems and set a future legacy through projects, while gaining valuable personal and professional skills. NGOs and NPOs can capitalize on the altruism to further their missions while providing a valuable experience to the volunteers. The volunteer relationship can be even more imperative as the volunteer’s enthusiasm for the organization’s mission can translate into funding from the individual and the individual’s personal and professional network.
So, set a plan for recruiting, engaging, and retaining volunteers!
Romiya Barry is a clinical research professional using the project management framework to improve patient care and community health. She is recognized by the Association of Clinical Research Professionals and PharmaTimes Inc. for her leadership in clinical project management. Romiya is on the Board of Directors for Health Horizons International, a healthcare NGO serving communities in the Dominican Republic. Connect with her here and on LinkedIn!