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Knowledge Share #13: Managing Volunteers: Benjamin Franklin had it right!


As with most nonprofit organizations, at Hope House are volunteers are crucial.  We could not do what we do without them!

As the Volunteer Coordinator for Hope House, it is my job to recruit, train, manage, and support our volunteers who donate their time and talent at Hope House.  I have come to realize that time is the currency of volunteers, which means they want to spend their time in impactful ways. 

As a result, I am fervent about my volunteers’ time and adamant that we, as an organization, are respectful of it. Maybe it stems back to my girlhood days watchingGone with the Wind and seeing the placard emblazoned with the words “Do not squander time, it is the stuff that life is made of” swinging gently in the breeze. Whatever the root, I have a core belief that time is not to be wasted!

How then do we go about using our volunteers’ time in the most meaningful way possible? Here are four tips that have worked well at Hope House:

  • Have a plan and a purpose.  Know what you want the volunteer to do and map it out in detail. Match the skill set of the volunteer to the task needing to be accomplished. Explain the objective and the importance of what they are going to do.  Make sure the volunteer understands exactly what you want from them.
  • Be prepared before they show up.  Plan for the volunteer’s arrival. Have materials together and instructions ready to go. Nothing is worse for a volunteer than showing up when the staff isn’t prepared for them.  Taking the time and effort to be organized and ready for your volunteers will go a long way in retaining them. Unfortunately, research shows that if volunteers have a bad experience, they likely won’t volunteer again – ever. 
  • Show appreciation.  A genuine, heartfeltThank you” pays big dividends not only for your organization, but in establishing goodwill with the volunteer.  Most volunteers, when asked their motivation for donating their time, will say they just want to know that they made a difference.  Appreciating their efforts will let them know that they DO make a difference.
  • Share stories of the volunteer’s impact with them. Here is a short excerpt from a note I recently received from staff regarding the impact of a volunteer:

“I have an amazing tutor on Thursday nights, Katelyn.  First of all, she brings dinner every week for the girls and other tutors, and it is delicious!!  But even better than that is the relationship she has formed with Shay while they work together.  She loves to ask Katelyn about the similarities and differences between Canada and the US.  Katelyn went home to Canada last weekend and remembered to bring back Canadian money and pictures to show her.  Shay was so excited and honored that Katelyn had thought of her.”

How do you think our volunteer Katelyn felt when she learned how she had impacted our teen mom?
 

As a volunteer coordinator, it is your job to use your volunteers in the fullest way by giving them meaningful, engaging, and worthwhile work.  This will benefit your organization and will make for happy volunteers who will be coming back time after time.

You can also seek out local sources such as DOVIA (Directors of Volunteers in Agencies) that provide excellent training and resources… tips and strategies from professionals in the field has been instrumental for us as we build a thriving volunteer program.

I  think Benjamin Franklin had it right when he said, “Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, it is the stuff that life is made of.”

Let’s not waste our volunteers’ time but honor them and the fact that they are giving us an irreplaceable commodity.

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Blog Archives

March 2017

Knowledge Share #13: Managing Volunteers: Benjamin Franklin had it right! - 03/13/2017


February 2017

Knowledge Share #12: Advocacy and Self-Sufficiency: Finding the Balance - 02/14/2017


January 2017

Knowledge Share #11: Effective PR and Spot On Communications - 01/18/2017


November 2016

Knowledge Share #10: I Walk the Line: Creating Deep Connections While Maintaining Professional Boundaries - 11/15/2016


September 2016

Knowledge Share #9: "Fundraising for Non-Profits: An Insider's Perspective" - 09/22/2016


August 2016

Knowledge Share #8: Breaking Out of Poverty - 08/18/2016


July 2016

Knowledge Share #7: Creating a Home - 07/11/2016


June 2016

Knowledge Share #6: The Power of Mindset - 06/14/2016


May 2016

Knowledge Share #5: College or Bust! - 05/17/2016


April 2016

Knowledge Share #4:Understanding Addiction - 04/07/2016


March 2016

Knowledge Share #3:Mentoring Empowers Teen Moms - 03/21/2016


February 2016

Knowledge Share #2: Healthy Relationships - 02/11/2016


January 2016

Knowledge Share #1: Brain Development - 01/12/2016


December 2015

Teen Mom Barrier #8: Communicating the Barriers - 12/16/2015


October 2015

Teen Mom Barrier #7: Homelessness - 10/09/2015


July 2015

TEEN MOM BARRIER #6: GENERATIONAL POVERTY - 07/16/2015


June 2015

Teen Mom Barrier Number #5: Domestic Violence - 06/03/2015


May 2015

Teen Mom Barrier # 4 The Challenges of College - 05/12/2015


April 2015

Teen Mom Barrier #3: The Unexpected Bill: Car Repair, Doctor's Visit, Broken Pipe - 04/03/2015


February 2015

Teen Mom Barrier #2: Childcare - 02/18/2015


January 2015

Teen Mom Barrier #1: Society's Negative Expectations - 01/26/2015


December 2014

Teen Mom Misconception #7: Teen Moms Are Completely Self-Absorbed - 12/29/2014


October 2014

Teen Mom Misconception #6: Teen moms drop out of school because they want to - 10/31/2014


September 2014

Teen Mom Misconceptions #5: Success is Impossible - 09/22/2014


July 2014

Misconception #4: Shaming Teen Moms is an Effective Approach - 07/22/2014


June 2014

Misconception #3: Mentoring Teen Moms is Complicated - 06/05/2014


May 2014

Because they want someone to love them? - 05/21/2014


April 2014

Teen Moms - A Persecuted Population? - 04/22/2014


March 2014

Connecting across the Continents: Teen Moms and the People Who Love Them - 03/18/2014


February 2014

Can you break out of poverty with a vocabulary of just 900 words? - 02/17/2014


January 2014

Community - 01/20/2014


December 2013

8 Pennies - 12/18/2013


November 2013

"The most courageous young women I know." - 11/14/2013


September 2013

Our Graduates: In their hands, they hold the future! - 09/30/2013


August 2013

The Cliff Effect and Other Perils on the Journey to Self-Sufficiency - 08/30/2013


July 2013

Breaking the Cycle: Do Poor Teens Have to Become Poor Adults? - 07/30/2013


June 2013

Measuring the Intangible - 06/15/2013


May 2013

Grown-Up Mom - 05/01/2013


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Recent Comments

Knowledge Share #6: The Power of Mindset
Caty love said: Danielle is one of my friends back from high school and just wanted to stop by and show her how hap ...   [more]

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Kim said: The truth just shines thrguoh your post   [more]

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Brenda said: Fantastic blog Lauren - and so true. Success IS possible when people love and believe in you! Nev ...   [more]

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Eva said: I am so proud of Vanessa good friend of mine and mother.   [more]

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