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ENGAGING & MANAGING VOLUNTEERS

On this page are ideas to help you work more efficiently with volunteers. There are tips on recruiting, engaging, coordinating, and managing the work of volunteers.

~ August 2010 ~

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COMMUNICATING WITH STAKEHOLDERS

The manager of volunteer programs has an array of “stakeholders.”  A stakeholder is a person or group with a direct interest, involvement, or investment in the work of the volunteers as it relates to the work they do for the organization.  Examples include, but are not limited to the volunteers, clients, members, patrons, funders, media, family of clients, members, patrons.  One crucial stakeholder for the volunteer program is the administrative leadership of the organization.

In a nonprofit organization this is the executive director and his or her staff and the board of directors.  For government based volunteer programs it means the administrative leadership of the agency or department.  This includes the manager of volunteers immediate supervisor. 

Successful managers of volunteers know the need for having well informed advocates for the volunteer program in upper levels of administration.  NEVER assume that everyone understand the work and/or value of the volunteers to accomplishing the mission of the organization.  Communication with these people is critical to the healthy survival of the volunteer program and its paid staff. 

Communicating with stakeholders is not done by happenstance.  It needs to be planned.  Here is a process to enhance your communication with stakeholders who are in administrative positions.

This formula for planning communication with a specific stakeholder can be used with other stakeholder individuals or groups.

Stakeholder Communication Plan

Step

Activities

1. Identify one stakeholder to whom you wish to communicate more effectively

  1. List the name and title of the people with whom you wish to communicate.
  2. Communication with stakeholders must be specific to a particular group, not aimed generically at everyone. A communication plan is NEVER “one size fits all.”

 

2. What does this group currently think of you?

  1. Ask to visit for a short period with an administrator to determine how much that person knows about the volunteer program.  What would he/she like to know?
  2. Have short prepared questions to ask.  Take no more than 10 minutes.
  3. Explain that you are revamping the reports you will be making and want to know what information would be helpful to his/her job.

3. How do they receive information about your program?

  1. How are you providing information to these administrators now?
  2. Is the information you provide related to the administrators tasks.  For example, statistics on the hours and dollar value of those hours can be used in grant applications or shared with the administrator’s supervisor.  In a government organization provide the FTEs that constitute the volunteers service and translate that into a dollar amount.

 

4. What are specific issues or interests for this group?

  1. Know the “hot button” issues for the organization and how volunteers are addressing those issues.
  2. Understand the administrator’s job to be able to understand the type of information he/she would find most useful.

5. Identify people influential with this group.

  1. Consider who is most important in the administrative line-up and plan a report for that person related to his/her responsibilities.

6. List 2-3 things you can do to enhance your communication with this group.

  1. Collect lots of data on volunteers; how many, hours donated, results of their efforts, translate donated service into dollar amounts, etc.
  2. Turn data into colorful and attractive reports
  3. Make a volunteer annual report that is informative, succinct and colorful.
  4. Make volunteer reports quarterly
  5. Never pass up the opportunity to talk about the volunteer program during “all staff” meetings.  Get on the agenda.
  6. Relate the work of volunteers to the mission of the organization and the results expected from volunteers.

 


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REACHING TEEN VOLUNTEERS

In the day and age of multi-media; newspapers, radio, Twitter, TV, billboards, etc it is essential to have a plan to attract specific audiences to volunteering.  Reaching teenagers is more than putting up a poster at the local high school.  Here are some tips.

Have jobs that are meaningful and fun. This generation of teenagers wants to have fun, same as earlier generations.  However, the millennial generation of teens wants work that is meaningful with impact to better the world.

Show how teens can use skills they already have.  Many teens have skills; computer, programming, data entry, online research, and more.  Be sure to help teens identify skills so their placement in the organization utilizes what they know, while the teen has a chance to learn new things.

Show pictures of teens having fun.  Make sure the Web site has a specific location for teen volunteers.  Get a photo release form when volunteers register and get a teen to take lots of pictures.  Change out the photos on a regular basis.  Teens, like their grown-up generational counterparts, want to see pictures of people their own age doing the tasks the organization has in mind.

Connect the volunteer job to practical school, career or college requirements.  Get a group of teen volunteers to work with you to identify how volunteering is related to school assignments, job experience, or college applications.  Have a teen turn it into a flyer to include in recruiting packets.  Colorful is good!

List altruistic reasoning for volunteering.  Altruism is a key motivator for today’s youth.  They are volunteering in droves, forming their own nonprofit organizations to address serious issues, and are more knowledgeable about world wide social problems than any generation in history.  Be sure to include information related to your mission in any recruiting information.

Don't be too frivolous. Teens like to be taken seriously.  They frequently know more than their elders on serious social issues.  Never patronize.  Be quick to share information about the organization’s mission and how volunteers are trying to address needs (human, animal, or arts).  Kids are less interested in “make-work” volunteering than in making a substantial contribution.

Stress individual values (Uniqueness.) Teens, like their adult counterparts, have a wide range of motivations for volunteering—achievement, influence, socialization, responsibility, and so much more.  In talking with teens find out what he/she is interested in and portray the job in those terms.  This goes for wording on the Web site, too.

Not all jobs are suitable for teen volunteers.  There are some tasks in the organization that are not suitable for teens.  All jobs need to be analyzed for appropriateness for a teenager.  Teens need to understand that the stay is short and some jobs require hours of training and seasoning.  Remember this teen grows up to be an adult who might want to volunteer.

Interested in learning how to effectively recruit volunteers? Check the Event page for local conferences and workshops. Sign up for online training course that leads to professional certification.

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