Have you just taken on a new job – paid or voluntary – where you work with people who are doing their roles as volunteers? If so, this is for you:
Time and energy
When you are planning – whether its a project, an event, or a new direction – make sure you build in extra capacity because it will likely take more people and more time than you think you need.
Is it that volunteers are naturally inefficient? Not at all! Your supporting team will be fitting their volunteering around both work and family commitments and when unexpected things happen and take up their time, it is their volunteering that gets put on hold. Expect the unexpected! Get things done ahead if you can and allow a longer lead time to deadlines. And recruit a few more people – say 10% more – than you think you need It makes for less stress if you do.
What do you know?
Your volunteers probably know less than you think. Make them feel comfortable by explaining the system, showing them how things work and getting them started. They might be too shy to to ask you for help but they will thank you for putting them at ease.
Hello – how are you?
Keep in touch with your team. I don’t mean bombard them. But check how they are getting on and encourage them to talk to you regularly. You will enjoy hearing the progress updates and good news from them. And if there is bad news then it’s better to hear it sooner rather than later.
Make the most of a new volunteer’s initial zeal. Some people love a new project and will bring huge amounts of drive and enthusiasm at the outset. If you can harness this productively the volunteer will have a much better experience and be more likely to move onwards and upwards. If they experience frustration and barriers in their early days they may give up on you.
Have you got any suggestions you would like to pass on to someone just starting out working with volunteers? Please leave them in comments.