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HOW TO GET THE BEST FROM VOLUNTEERS

Updated: Oct 2

Sometimes, all you need is to have a conversation to learn. That’s what we love about our Hi2 group of nonprofits. When we get together for a chat, everyone leaves with something to work on or think about.


This week our topic was Volunteers and by the end of the discussion we all agreed that

  • Volunteers can be a valuable asset to an organisation

  • The experience of volunteering can be valuable for an individual

  • There are a number of things organisations can do to ensure they get the best out of their volunteers



Here are a few highlights from our conversation.


Why do we need volunteers?

Beyond the obvious fact that organisations need volunteers because they don’t have enough funds to employ everyone they need to get the job done….

  • Volunteers bring a new perspective and fresh ideas

  • Giving people the chance to volunteer can be part of their own transformation and help them feel they are adding value to society

  • Skills gaps can be filled

  • At peak times like events, volunteers can provide extra manpower

  • People from outside the community can come and experience the conditions and work on the ground (note this is not restricted to international volunteers but also applies to people from a different part of the country, or even the same city!)

  • Taking on volunteers gives organisations a chance to get to know people who could potentially become employees

  • Volunteers bring their own networks where we can raise awareness of our work

To get the best out of volunteers, organisations need to

  • Manage the expectations of volunteers in terms of the scope of their role and the time and effort they will be expected to commit

  • Manage the expectations of employees working with volunteers so that they don’t overburden them

  • Ensure volunteers understand the goals and values of the organisation, explaining the vision and mission to them

  • Focus on their strengths and put them to good use but also help train them in new skills

  • Show appreciation for them

  • Ask for their feedback on their experience with the organisation

  • Get to know them as individuals and make them feel they are part of the team

  • Help volunteers understand the gap they are coming to fill in the organisation and communicate it to them clearly

A lot of these can be supported through the creation of a volunteer pack that gives information about the organisation, outlines expectations of volunteers and share relevant policies including Social Media and Child Protection etc

Whilst it’s not always possible to offer financial support for volunteers, alternatives like certificates or letters of reference can still add value to the experience. However, it was noted that it can be good practice to provide transport costs as lack of these may prevent someone from offering their time and skills that can could be of great benefit.

We have a vested interest in volunteers due to our SDG initiative and we’re delighted that our partners have such positive views on volunteering and believe that it can and should be of mutual benefit to the volunteer and the organisation!

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