Volunteer Job Descriptions
Earlier this month, I said it was important to stop recruiting volunteers and take some time to reset your program. Today, I want to talk specifically about job descriptions.
Every position I have taken on has come with a one-to-two page job description that highlighted the points of my job, the company’s expectations, and any other details I may need to know. This document provided clarity and a starting point for good communication. A volunteer position deserves the same respect.
One of the most important volunteer positions I have found is that of a volunteer coordinator. Regardless of your job title, I am going to bet you do not have enough time to get everything done all the time. Managing volunteers is no different. Taking the time to find a person that is organized and communicates well to help you make the most of your volunteers is key to growing your team.
Some great resources for developing your job description are:
Society for Human Resource Management: https://www.shrm.org/ResourcesAndTools/tools-and-samples/job-descriptions/Pages/Volunteer-Coordinator.aspx
Once you have recruited the right volunteer, train them! Treat them like an employee as you onnboard them to your organization. This person, your volunteer coordinator, is going to be your right hand person and you want them to feel secure in their knowledge of the organization and the team they are serving.
Book Review: Coach Your Champions
If I could say there was one book that had the most impact on my career in development it would be Eric Foley’s Coach Your Champions. This book highlights one of the main topics that I addressed last week — the importance of volunteers and how you are using those who love your organization.
I chose the word “using” intentionally. Often times we can fall into the trap of overlooking the people that show up every day and forget they could be offering solutions if only we would ask. I challenge you to look at your orgnization and ask who are your champions?
One of my volunteering experiences was interesting, they never called me, they never asked me to come back, but I fell in love with the work, so I just showed up. This helped me stay in touch with the organization and eventually created a wonderful working relationship with the director, some impactful events, and a job offer. The sad thing is, I know that if I had waited for the calls, I may have moved on in those first few months. DO NOT DO THIS to your volunteers. Engage with them, help them to feel like they belong in the organization, and most importantly, treat them like you care about their contributions to your organizations.
I believe in this concept of coaching your champions so much, I have a copy of the book setting on my desk. At the end of this week, I will choose one person who commented or liked this post on social media to send this copy to. What do you say, are you ready to be a coach?
They volunteered…now what?
Every organization I have ever worked with is recruiting volunteers, and almost every single one of those organizations never has a enough volunteers despite having sign up drives at every event, social media posts, and friends dragging friends to the organization.
I believe the main reason for this is once a volunteer completes your application, your organization is asking “what do I do with this person?”
The answer is stop recruiting and rewrite your program. Volunteers are precious gold to an organization, and currently in the U.S. a volunteer’s time is worth $28.54 an hour (read the article here). If you were paying an employee this much per hour, they would have a job description that provided direction and clear steps to how to complete their tasks. A volunteer deserves this and more.
Step One - what do you need volunteers for. And, no, “help” is not the right answer. Sit down with yor team and look at specific areas that you need help. For example, if you are working on a major event for the year, break down the event volunteers: volunteer committee chair, event day volunteer coordinator, silent auction coordinator, technology coordinator, auction item procurement volunteer…etc. Then take the time and list out the requirements of these positions and what skills a person will need to do the job. This is how you prevent Mary’s grandmother from getting volunteered to help with the new software for the auction and everyone feeling overwhelmed.
Step Two - recruit a person, not a volunteer. Treat every volunteer meeting like a job interview, ask questions, get to know the person sitting across the table from you. Listen to what they like to do and want to do. It is your job to place a volunteer into a position that they are geared for and want to do, not just to simply sit them at the front desk to answer phones.
Next week, I will share more on the importance of follow-up and being proactive with volunteers.
When I entered the world of fundraising and development, I was recruited as a volunteer onto a team that hated fundraising, hated hosting events, and generally thought of fundraising as their version of a four letter word.
Interestingly, I found the opposite reaction in my own personality. I enjoyed the challenge of developing relationships in our community, transforming the enormous impact of our work into a two minute pitch for network events, and I relished the opportunity to make our events engaging, impactful, and most importantly run smoothly!
Over the course of three years, the first as a volunteer and the next two as an employee, I took this non-profit’s premier event from 100 people and approximately $40,000 in gross proceeds, to over 450 people attending and $140,000 in gross revenue. There was no magic wand or step-by-step guide that I followed. I simply recognized that the non-profit had a solution to a problem that was plauging our entire community and I spread that message in every networking group, chamber meeting, and as many one-on-one coffees as I could manage. The result of these relationships was the word of our event spread organically and many of those 450 people I did not know personally until that event.
Fundraising is not about simply looking at a budget and attempting to fill the columns with tedious and repeative events, rather it is about recognizing the value of authenic relationships that yield results.
Jana Roberts is the owner and lead grant writer of Inspired Development, LLC.