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Role of Volunteer Managers

By Tom Linley, Florida Association For Volunteer Resource Management

Are you a volunteer manager, volunteer coordinator, volunteer leader or perhaps a manager of volunteers?  Regardless of your specific title, if you handle your organization’s volunteers in a fulltime or part time, or paid volunteer capacity, then you are a volunteer manager! You have a challenging, diverse and key role, using your skills to lead volunteer efforts and often advocating for strengthening the involvement of volunteers. While you may be the only volunteer manager in your organization you are not alone.  Volunteer managers have numerous key areas in common.

  • Planning and Management: A volunteer program with a strong plan will have strong results.  You are responsible for developing and implanting a solid plan that identifies the need for and effective use of volunteers throughout your organization.  When a need is identified then a position description needs to be written to ensure you are looking for the right volunteer with the appropriate skills and experience. In some organizations, you may be included in management team discussions or as a member of the management team which gives insight into your organization’s needs.
  • Recruiting Volunteers: This responsibility is key to your program’s success.  Each organization has unique needs and recruits their volunteers based on the specifics of their community.  Recruitment may include advertisements, website and social media posts, online volunteer job postings, poster/flyers, personal speaking appearances, job/career fairs and more.  The most effective recruitment method is asking your current volunteers to ask a friend to join them in their volunteering.  This is the number one reason people volunteer…they were asked! Volunteer managers are typically integral in the interview and screening process of new volunteers.
  • Training and Orienting Volunteers: New volunteers need orienting and training to get them settled into their new work. You often provide this initial orientation which helps the new volunteer understand the organization’s mission, policies, and housekeeping aspects (parking, scheduling, recording hours, etc.). Training for specific work can be completed by the volunteer manager or another person (volunteer or employee) who is knowledgeable about the subject.  Regardless of who does the orienting and training, it is your responsibility to ensure that volunteers are ready to perform their designated service.  Part of your job is to help your volunteers feel welcomed, needed and appreciated.
  • Scheduling Volunteers: You generally keep the master schedule so volunteers know when they are committed to serve. Larger organizations may leave the scheduling to the actual supervisor of the volunteer.  When there are large events, your role is to ensure there are enough volunteers to fill the needs of the event.  This can be a complex job and requires a healthy dose of organization.
  • Storytelling: What better way to demonstrate the value of your volunteers’ contributions than to tell their stories? First, you’ll need accurate records of their hours served, details of their accomplishments, and testimonies from your clients and colleagues. The Independent Sector's national value of volunteer time is $24.14 per hour. Use this reputable source to calculate the value of your volunteers.  Share this story with your organization’s leadership, at volunteer recognition events, on your website, on social media, and with your local media.  

Being a volunteer manager can be both a tough and an extremely rewarding job. Often you are given minimal resources yet are expected to do miracles with your volunteers.  It is through your tenacity that you and your volunteers bring success to your organization and the community you serve. Connecting with other volunteer managers through the Florida Association For Volunteer Resource Management is a profound way to learn from others, receive professional support and get innovative ideas to improve your volunteer program.  

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