Managing Your Association’s Volunteers

11 Nov Managing Your Association’s Volunteers

Good volunteers positively add to both the productivity and the culture of an organization. No matter how large or small their tasks, they often become some of the organization’s best advocates. Every board member and association manager knows that the importance of keeping volunteers happy. While roles and responsibilities vary as wildly as the personalities that fill them, here are some keys to successful volunteer stewardship:

1. Know their interests and professional goals
Volunteers provide a valuable resource by giving their time, but it is important to remember that it can often take considerable time on the management side to organize, train and oversee that free work. To make the most out of this investment, get to know your volunteers and assign them work that aligns with their current interests, professional skills and goals. Not only does that generally require less guidance, but the volunteer is far more likely to stay with the organization when there is a personal sense of accomplishment.

2. Be patient and respectful of their time
Understand that timelines in paid jobs and timelines in a volunteer position are often different things – and that’s okay. It is easy to forget (in the midst of your own professional deadlines and pressures), that volunteers usually have paid jobs too, and they are going above and beyond their normal responsibilities to help. Communicate clear time priorities at the beginning of projects, make sure it includes some extra time, and remember to cut your volunteers a little slack.

3. Say Thank You
Volunteerism is often a thankless job. Treat time donations just as you would financial donations. Time is money, after all, and everyone wants to know their contributions are appreciated.