Volunteers are often described as the life blood of charities. And it is true, the immense generosity of people giving up their time is always overwhelming and appreciated by charities.
However, it is a system of opportunity that shouldn’t be exploited. (Voluntary internships deserve an entire blog post to themselves!)
Having volunteered in a number of roles – from a steward at festivals, to working in academic support sessions to street collector – here are some top tips for having a great relationship with volunteers so that both sides can reap the maximum benefits.
1. Make sure you understand people’s motives for volunteering
Sometimes this is evident from an application form, but sometimes you need that face-to-face contact to work this out. The more you understand what this volunteer wants to gain out of the opportunity, the more you will be able to support them, and the more they will reciprocate.
2. Outline clearly what the volunteer’s role will be
That way, you both know what is expected, which will make for a smoother relationship.
3. Do not expect the world
Yes, sometimes you will come across volunteers who go above and beyond the call of duty, but you cannot expect this. The volunteers who turn up and do the job required to the best of their ability, should be just as valuable to you.
4. Ask for feedback
If you, or any of your staff have noticed issues with any of the volunteers, talk it out. This will help you all to leave on good terms with one another, and will help you to improve the experience for the future.
5. Say thank you!
Before, during and after the volunteering role express your gratitude – this cannot be done enough.