Growing Your Volunteer Program


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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 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

    1. 1. Growing Your Organization’s Volunteer Program
    2. 2. Goals <ul><li>Provide information and evidence demonstrating the importance of a volunteer program. </li></ul><ul><li>Identify steps and a process to be used in the review or development of a volunteer program. </li></ul>
    3. 3. <ul><li>Volunteers Represent An Investment </li></ul>
    4. 4. Benefits <ul><li>Effective Programs Bring Returns </li></ul>
    5. 5. Reimagining Service <ul><li>50 or more volunteers = Increased capacity </li></ul>
    6. 6. The Service Enterprise <ul><li>“ . . . fundamentally leverages volunteers and their skills to successfully deliver on the social mission of the organization” </li></ul>
    7. 7. Path To Becoming A Service Enterprise
    8. 8. <ul><li>“ Service Enterprises are able to get as much as three to six times the value out </li></ul><ul><li>of volunteers as the cost to manage them” </li></ul><ul><li>What Is Reimaging Service? </li></ul>
    9. 9. BENEFITS <ul><li>Input & feedback </li></ul><ul><li>Additional human resources </li></ul><ul><li>Additional expertise </li></ul><ul><li>Contacts and outreach </li></ul><ul><li>Act as connectors to other groups </li></ul><ul><li>Provide community monitoring </li></ul><ul><li>Provide financial support </li></ul>
    10. 10. Costs & Challenges <ul><li>Programming </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Travel, food </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Materials </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Recruitment </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Recognition </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Space </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Computer access, desk </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Tools & materials </li></ul><ul><li>Staff time & commitment </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Planning, preparation, review, revision </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Volunteer Management </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Training </li></ul>
    11. 11. The Cost of A Volunteer , The Grantmaker Forum on Community and National Service <ul><li>Because of changing demographics and expectations among those who volunteer, organizations are compelled to invest more time and money in the recruitment, training and retention of 21 st volunteers. . .” </li></ul>
    12. 12. Making The Investment Steps to A To-Notch Volunteer Program <ul><li>Revisit your organization’s mission. </li></ul><ul><li>Gather Ideas—Conduct a Needs Assessment </li></ul><ul><li>Develop a case statement </li></ul><ul><li>Get buy-in </li></ul><ul><li>Do initial program design </li></ul><ul><li>Develop the resources </li></ul><ul><li>Capitalize on trends and community resources. </li></ul><ul><li>Determine the structure </li></ul><ul><li>Address risk management issues </li></ul><ul><li>Determine if there are legal issues to address </li></ul><ul><li>Develop effective volunteer management policies and procedures. </li></ul><ul><li>Start small—pilot, reevaluate </li></ul>
    13. 13. Before conducting a needs assessment: <ul><li>I. Review your organizational vision and mission. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What are you trying to accomplish in your community? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How do volunteers fit into the program’s mission, strategies, and goals? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How could volunteers best meet the program’s needs to serve more people and make a greater difference to the community? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How can volunteers help meet program goals? </li></ul></ul>
    14. 14. Develop a purpose statement (case statement) <ul><li>A written statement that explains the object for which anything exists or is done or is made. </li></ul><ul><li>“ A Case Statement is a living document that you must have on file at all times. It is important for your Board of Directors and your Donor Development Department to understand, who you are and what you intend to do to make a difference in your community. A case statement is essential to the future success of the organization in raising major funds. This document is crucial for any other proposals that might be written in the future, such as grants to Foundations or proposals to churches or corporation” </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
    15. 15. The Case Statement <ul><li>Demonstrates the value of the program </li></ul><ul><li>Provides structure and focus for activities </li></ul><ul><li>Used in outreach activities—letterhead, recruitment, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Examples </li></ul><ul><li>Those who care for seriously ill children often suffer from the fall out--divorce, alcoholism, drug abuse, depression. Volunteers who serve with our organization help strengthen and extend our ability to support and strengthen families with children suffering from a variety of illnesses and injuries. </li></ul><ul><li>The ___ mobilizes volunteers to collect and distribute food to those in need as well as to provide effective education and support to promote healthy eating. </li></ul>
    16. 16. Conduct a Needs Assessment <ul><li>Identify where volunteers should be placed </li></ul><ul><li>Identify where volunteers are no longer needed </li></ul><ul><li>Identify ways volunteers can increase staff efficiency </li></ul><ul><li>Create staff buy-in </li></ul>
    17. 17. How is a needs assessment done? <ul><li>Choose the one that best fits your organization </li></ul>
    18. 18. <ul><li>Who participates? </li></ul>
    19. 19. DISCUSSION <ul><li>Pause the webinar presentation at this time </li></ul>How has or will your organization assess your needs? How did or will your organization obtain buy-in for the volunteer program and/or potential changes?
    20. 20. <ul><li>Volunteer positions should not: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Require extensive training </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Involve significant risk to the individual or the organization </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Include duties that are repetitive and on-going in nature </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Replace staff </li></ul></ul>
    21. 21. Develop the resources <ul><li>Develop a Budget line item </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Volunteer recruitment materials </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Project materials </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Staff training </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Identify staff responsibilities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Incorporate volunteer management responsibilities into staff position descriptions </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Allocate space (if necessary) </li></ul>
    22. 22. Identifying Resources <ul><li>How can you advocate within your organization to get the resources you need to be successful? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Create a volunteer advisory council chaired by a current board member. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Host a focus group of volunteers and staff and present report or recommendations to supervisor or board. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Prepare a quarterly report to the board on the value of the volunteer program. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Other. </li></ul></ul>
    23. 23. Five Elements of Volunteer Management <ul><li>NEXT STEPS. . . </li></ul><ul><li>Determine the structure </li></ul><ul><li>Develop policies and procedures </li></ul><ul><li>Put them in writing </li></ul><ul><li>Volunteer Handbook </li></ul><ul><li>Volunteer Orientation </li></ul>
    24. 24. Discussion <ul><li>What is your organization’s next step? </li></ul><ul><li>What can you do to facilitate the process? </li></ul>
    25. 25. Summary—Questions/Feedback <ul><li>  </li></ul>Please complete and return your evaluation form. Your input is appreciated. Thank you for your time and willingness to participate in this training.