Planning to include volunteers in your organisation?

The following is intended to assist you in deciding what types of volunteers could be of assistance to you and the roles they may be able to fill in your organisation.

Potential areas in which volunteers might assist your organisation

Before you get started on your volunteer recruitment consider the following areas where volunteers may be able to assist:

  • Positions that are of direct assistance to an individual client (counselling, visitation, mentoring, befriending, hobby/crafts)
  • Office administrative support (reception, information services, call lines, website updating/developing)
  • Outreach (ambassadors, fundraising, events)
  • Practical help (driving, gardening, DIY)
  • Are there areas in which you could extend services or begin a programme with the help of volunteers?

Design of volunteer positions:

Keep the following in mind as you think about the specific tasks you would like the volunteer to do:

  • The tasks should be meaningful and significant, both to the organisation and to your clientele. This means that your volunteer position must have a goal or purpose that the volunteer can strive to accomplish and can feel good about having achieved.
  • The volunteer ought to be able to feel some ownership and responsibility for their tasks. They should feel that they have some input into and control over the tasks they are asked to do. This will mean including the volunteer in the flow of information and decision-making within the centre/group.
  • The tasks must fit a part-time situation. Either the tasks should be small enough in scope to be productively approached in a few hours a week, or else they must be designed to be shared among a group of volunteers.
  • Volunteers should be assigned to work with staff/experienced volunteers who are capable of supervising their activities in a productive fashion, and providing ongoing direction, evaluation and feedback.

Scheduling the volunteer:

The more flexible the timeframe of the volunteer position, the greater the likelihood that you can find someone who will be willing to undertake it. Think about the following as different options for the position:

  • Can the tasks be done on a flexible schedule at the discretion of the volunteer?
  • Are there set hours during the week when you need the volunteer?
  • Could the tasks be done in evenings and/or weekends?
  • Must the tasks be done on-site or can they be done remotely?

Assessing your Readiness for volunteers:

  • Do you have adequate assigned space & equipment (desk/chair) for the volunteer?
  • Have you assigned a supervisor for the volunteer?
  • Do you need to provide any orientation or training for your staff before you involve volunteers?
  • Do you have a clear idea of the qualifications you will be looking for in a prospective volunteer?
  • Do you know what training, if any, the volunteer will need to do the tasks the way you want them done?
  • Do you have a firm description of the goals and objectives of the volunteer position?
  • Do you have a plan for including the volunteer in centre activities and communications flow?