Nonprofit organizations rely a lot on the help of volunteers. Whether it's assisting with an important fundraising campaign or helping out at a special event, their work can really help out. That's why nonprofits need to know the finer points of volunteer management. In this week's nonprofit management tip, we examine how organizations can evaluate their volunteers:
Volunteer management is so important that training sessions and orientation programs for volunteer managers can pay big dividends. Instituting such programs might not be easy, however.
Susan J. Ellis, a Philadelphia, Pa.-based consultant who specializes in volunteers, believes that volunteer leaders often need to be acquainted with the approaches that will help them to help other volunteers, as well as working to the benefit of such initiatives.
For example, it could be helpful to tell them that:
• It is worse to talk negatively about someone with others than to confront the person directly about poor performance;
• It is more flattering to suggest that a volunteer could do better at something than to act as if you think they’ve already done their best;
• If you want to recognize good volunteers, then deal with volunteers who are not doing the right things. Otherwise, you send the message to the others that it doesn’t matter whether they do something well;
• It could be a relief to the volunteer that you are offering options for improving a situation that the person also believes is not working well; and,
• Stress self-fulfilling prophecy. Set high standards and don’t settle for “Well, we’ve got to accept whatever volunteers do.” Expect the best and that’s what you’ll get. But don’t assume that everyone automatically comes with positive expectations, even volunteers.
Evaluating your volunteers can be a challenging task, so hopefully these tips were helpful to you. Feel free to share your volunteer management stories with us by posting in the comments section below.