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Growing Your Volunteer Program

Growing Your Volunteer Program



As nonprofits consider the problem of program sustainability and capacity building; volunteers are a part of the answer. Effective organizations seek to engage volunteers in a variety of roles and ...

As nonprofits consider the problem of program sustainability and capacity building; volunteers are a part of the answer. Effective organizations seek to engage volunteers in a variety of roles and responsibilities. This presentation provides information organizations can use as they seek to implement a volunteer program. This information will be helpful for organizations with current programs as ongoing review and revision is a part of effective volunteer management.



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  • This training was developed by the Volunteer Centers of Michigan in partnership with the Michigan Community Service Commission as a part of the Volunteer Generation grant.
  • The first step to developing an effective program is to identify the benefits that the program can combine in the program and to invest accordingly.
  • Effective programs invest in volunteer staffing and up-front time spent on development of clear, effective policies and procedures. This time brings a return. Research differs—as to the amount. However, volunteers not only provide services, but also are 10x’s more likely to be donors.
  • A study done by TCC group in 2009 found that “all core capacities (leadership, adaptive, management and technical) are significantly and marketing strong for nonprofits with more than 50 volunteers AND a strong volunteer model) Volunteers that utilize strong volunteer management practices and engage 50 or more volunteers increase effectiveness in 4 areas—managing, leading, learning, and sustaining.
  • TCC group study describes these organizations as “service enterprises”
  • The study done by Deloitte and reported in reimagining service uses the term “service enterprises” to identify those organizations that effectively engage volunteers with resulting increased stability and capacity.
  • The foundation for increases capacity and stability begins with strong volunteer management which means staffing and policies and procedures. This management fosters increased services which serves the organization’s mission.
  • Volunteers provide many benefits—Service as advocates, provide input & feedback to management. Their services and skills supplement staff resources and experiences. The organization gains flexibility to react to changing community conditions and thus to react to short-term crises.
  • Common concerns and roadblocks to volunteer programming are the upfront costs and staff time involved in planning and support. However, these costs represent an investment which result in significant returns.
  • Effective organizations recruit volunteers to serve a greater variation of roles including skilled volunteers, team leaders, virtual volunteers, corporate partners, etc. Thus, the greater investment. Service enterprises think beyond traditional roles of such as clerical type of duties and the very basic manual labor positions common to volunteer engagement.
  • There are 8 basic steps in the development of a volunteer program. These 8 steps can actually be summarized in 3 words—prepare, plan, pilot. The most important is to identify the roles volunteers will play in the organization and to insure that all staff and board understand the importance and relevance of the program.
  • Rescue Mission Foundation.org provides step-by-step instructions for (1) writing a Case Statement (2) Conducting a needs assessment
  • Case statements can range from a few sentences to a few paragraphs.
  • A needs assessment begins to identify what might be added, done better, or more with volunteer time and skills.
  • Interviews surveys focus/advisory groups, SWOT Analysis (strength, weaknesses, opportunities, threats). Surveys might be online, hard copy, internet, but should always be followed up by a conversation either with a focus group of interested individuals or with participants as a whole.
  • Different points of view will bring significant benefits.
  • Note volunteer generation and engagement should be a part of periodic, preferably monthly, reports to the board. #volunteers, #hours, Impact (#clients, etc.) Equivalent Dollar Value. Involved staff should be those who have the interest and the skills. Volunteer management including screening, supervision, and evaluation should be a part of the job description. Note—even volunteers should have some place to hang their coat and store materials.
  • Include staff and current volunteers to develop policies and procedures related to each of the elements in effective volunteer management. Volunteer Centers of Michigan will provide additional information and training related to each of the 5 elements.

Growing Your Volunteer Program Growing Your Volunteer Program Presentation Transcript