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8 best practices for managing volunteers

We put together some best practices for managing volunteers to help build their skills and keep your best people returning for years to come.

1. Create a volunteer handbook

The handbook should include:
• Basic organization policies
• Employee guidelines such as dress code policy
• General volunteer expectations
• Any safety precautions or practices depending on the nature of the work
• A volunteer agreement for them to sign

2. Assign a volunteer coordinator

A coordinator can determine volunteer needs across teams, recruit, and onboard new volunteers. They also serve as a point person for volunteers and manage logistics including scheduling and project assignments.

3. Provide an orientation

Your orientation should include:
• A short overview of your organization
• Introductions to staff members they will be working with
• An office tour
• A demonstration of one or more of the tasks they will perform in their role

4. Set goals

Whether you’re working together for one day or weekly for years to come, be sure to set goals with your volunteers. Each goal should include:
• The support and resources available to help them meet the goal
• Benchmarks leading up to goal completion used to assess progress
• Clear measures for successful goal completion

5. Provide check-ins or volunteer meetings

Keep your volunteers informed about new developments and take time to answer questions or address any issues they might have. This check-in could be an in-office/onsite one-on-one conversation or a weekly coffee break meeting.

6. Track volunteer hours

This is especially important for your organization’s record keeping. It can also help you assess hiring needs and make sure volunteer’s hours align with your expectations.

7. Offer training opportunities

It can be as simple as a brown bag lunch to brush up on excel skills or a Q&A session with a colleague who has expertise in an issue area or specific task.

8. Recognize good work and express gratitude

Lunches, happy hours, small gifts like organizational schwag, and thank you cards can help you show your appreciation for your volunteers. Because they are not compensated, these forms of recognition are extra meaningful. Make your thank you activities specific to your organization to share the impact of their work.

When you provide good volunteer management, volunteers will feel valued, included, and be more likely to volunteer with your organization in the future. We hope these best practices help you continue to cultivate and enhance your own volunteer program.

Did this article remind you that you need to recruit some volunteers? Good news – you can post volunteer opportunities on Idealist for free! Log in below to post now!

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