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6 Power Steps to Managing Volunteers That Every Volunteer Coordinator Should Know

So what is involved in managing volunteers. It involves bringing volunteers into the organisation, looking after them

while they fulfill their duties, and then planning for when they leave.

Volunteer Management involves 6 stages. These are:

Volunteer Management Model

1. Recruitment

2. Selection/ Screening

3. Orientation

4. Training/ Development

5. Recognition

6. Retention/ Replacement

I want you to imagine that these 6 stages are set up in a circle. Although volunteer management does not have a start and end point they are linked and is an ongoing process.

Now lets have a look at each stage individually;

Stage 1 – Recruitment

Recruitment is the process of attracting new volunteers to your organisation. So, when

you approach a potential volunteer, it is important to promote your organisation as an

exciting and positive organisation to be involved with!

Here are some strategies to source volunteers and how to recruit them.

o Produce volunteer information kits This should include position descriptions for each volunteer role. People are very aware of committing to a position if they don’t fully understand what is required in regards to skills and time. Would you take a paid job if you didn’t know what it invovled and how many hours were required. Of course not!!!!! Then why would we expect volunteers to do it?

o Check past and present membership lists for potential volunteers.

o Ask members for their occupation on your membership form to identify skills

that may be suitable to a volunteer position (e.g. if a member has indicated that his/her occupation is a registrar, you may be able to approach

them as a potential Secretary or Treasurer).

o Provide new members with information about ways they can get involved with your organisation as a volunteer (include in membership information).

o Use the local community newspaper

– Place a classified advertisements, letter to the editor or feature article.

– Avoid simply saying – “We need volunteers” indicate the type of roles that need to be fulfilled and the great benefits of being involved in your organisation.

o Produce posters, pamphlets or flyers that promote the organisation and the types of things volunteers can do – distribute where potential volunteers may visit. I am also betting that there is a person in you organisation that could produce very professional looking materials. You never know until you ask.

o Organise community notices on the radio.

o Ask private companies to include volunteering in pre-retirement training


o Promote your organisation’s volunteering opportunities to schools, TAFE and universities.

o Advertise volunteering opportunities through corporations, businesses, and


o Offer young members the opportunity to take on the role of apprentice

volunteers. Use existing and experienced volunteers as mentors.

o Promote your organisation and volunteer roles at local retirement villages and organisations.

o Advertise for volunteers on your organisation’s website.

o Offer volunteers the opportunity to “job share” their volunteer role with a friend or partner.

o Try the personal approach… simply ASK! Do not under estimate this powerful strategy. Approaching people in a professional way dramatically increases your chances of getting people to say yes to your request.


For many volunteer organisations it is rare to have more volunteers than positions. So, they may have little experience in having to choose the right

person for a volunteer position. But you still need to have screening processes in place to ensure that volunteers are suitable for the positions they fulfil.There are many ways to select and screen potential volunteers. You might like to consider a combination of the following;

o Position descriptions;

o Application forms;

o Interviews;

o Referee checks;

o National Police Clearance or National Police Check;

o Working with children checks

o Declaration forms; and

o Code of Conduct forms.

With all the formalities out of the way, why not just ask them the reason they are volunteering and what they would like out of it. This will give you some great information in regards to what you can do to make the volunteering experience the best possible. Imagine how welcome the volunteer will feel if you ask this question.


The best (and one of the easiest) ways to help someone to feel part of the team is to show them around the organisation. Providing an orientation

program for new volunteers will help them to settle in a little faster. The more

effort you put in at the start to ensure your volunteer workforce feels well-informed and valued, the less work it will be in the long run.

Orientation can take place in a number of ways. You may like to try one or more of the following:

o Information or orientation kits;

o Video and PowerPoint presentations;

o Group or individual orientations; and

o Hand-over with the previous volunteer.

o A welcome function that involves new and old volunteers.

During the orientation, make sure you cover the following:

o Any rules and procedures;

o Volunteer policies and procedures;

o Financial procedures;

o Occupational health and safety issues;

o Position description for the volunteer role;

o Facilities (e.g. parking, kitchen, toilet);

o Introduce them to other volunteers and committee members in your organisation;

o Highlight a person that the volunteer can go to for assistance, if required.


o Anything else that will help the volunteers to feel comfortable starting in their role.


Training and development is a vital part of a good volunteer management program. Volunteers who are offered some form of training (formal or informal) are more confident, comfortable and efficient in their role, and everyone benefits. It is also good risk management.

There are several different ways that you can train your volunteers:

o Pre-placement Training –

This should cover the skills needed to commence the volunteer duties. For example, a sports trainer shouldn’t begin duties until he or she has completed a first aid or sports trainer’s course.

o On the Job

This refers to teaching or supervision of volunteers while they are performing their duties. This can be a hand-over with the previous volunteer, someone who has experience with performing that role or the Volunteer Coordinator. You may also consider bringing in an external person, for example someone from another organisation

o Training Courses and Seminars – there is numerous opportunities for volunteers to attend training courses and seminars.


Volunteers do not expect lots of thanks and big hugs, but they really appreciate it when their contribution is valued and recognised.

Here are just a few easy and cost effective ways to say thank you to you volunteers;

o Smile, say hello and thank your volunteers regularly. This simple and free strategy ahs more power and impact than a lot of other strategies and so often it is neglected.

o Send welcome letters when volunteers are first recruited.

o Include volunteers in organisational charts.

o Write letters and post cards of thanks to volunteers. Why not get the president of your organisation to sign it to add greater impact.

o Write letters of reference and include details of service.

o Provide identification pins, badges, shirts or caps.

o Provide discounted memberships to volunteers.

o Acknowledge and profile volunteers in newsletters and on websites.

o Present volunteer awards at annual general meetings or awards ceremonies.

o Feature your volunteers at special events throughout the year (e.g. state championships; national league games; family days).

o Provide complimentary tickets to volunteers for special events and functions.

o Send get well, birthday and Christmas cards to your volunteers.

o Arrange discounts at local sport stores or restaurants for your volunteers.

o Have a volunteer of the month award.

o Name events or facilities after long serving volunteers.

o Award life memberships for long serving volunteers.

o Reimburse out-of pocket expenses for volunteers.

o Acknowledge the efforts of volunteers during committee meetings.

o Hold special “thank you” or social functions in honour of volunteers.

o Present volunteers with a special memento recognising their service to the organisation.

o Farewell volunteers when they move away from the area or leave the organisation. (Perhaps offer to write to their new organisation to recommend them for a volunteering role.)

o Arrange for free or discounted use of facilities.

o Present special awards for 1, 3, 5, 10, 15 and more years of service.


Maintaining a stable group of long term volunteers is the goal of all sport

and recreation organisations. A stable volunteering base:

o reduces recruiting time and costs;

o reduces training and education costs;


o provides an important sense of continuity within the organisation.

However, there is going to be a time that you will have to replace volunteers, but how you manage this replacement process is important to:

o improve how you manage remaining volunteers;

o improve your Volunteer Management Program;

o make the transition of volunteers have as little impact as possible on the

running of the organisation; and

o make the departing volunteer feel that they can come back to the organisation if their

current situation changes.

When a volunteer leaves your organisation, this is an ideal time to gather information about the volunteer’s experience.

Evaluating the reasons why volunteers leave an organisation can be invaluable for improving your volunteer management practices.

One way to collect this information is by getting feedback from volunteers who are leaving your organisation – or exit interviews.

These can be formal or informal, conducted in person, over the phone, or in the form of a feedback sheet that the person can complete and return.

Although, this may seem a lot of work…….. you have to ask yourself the question “Aren’t your volunteers worth it?”

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