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Five Volunteer Management Challenges



Most organizations are not explicit about expectations of their volunteers and don't allow them to indicate their resources, experience and backgrounds. 


Suggestion: Design specific job descriptions for various areas of tasks to be performed. Discover a potential volunteer's skills, resources and experiences, and their commitment. This will allow potential volunteers to see how they can successfully fit into the group.


Leadership And Accountability


Since volunteers are not paid, they can easily be ignored when it comes to supervision and accountability. A lack of leadership and being accountable makes it easier for projects to fall apart and for volunteers to walk away. 


Suggestion: Establish adequate leadership structures to make all volunteers accountable for their responsibilities. This keeps tasks and activities from falling apart and increases the chance for success in the group to keep everyone motivated. 


Rewards Or Recognition


Volunteers are often satisfied with the results of their work as reward enough. However, after a while, if there is no acknowledgment of work accomplished by members of the group this can lead to dissatisfaction with the volunteer's involvement. 


Suggestion: Create a low-cost, low-effort way to make sure all volunteers are given some sort of recognition. And, in the case of "way above and beyond the call of duty," maybe some sort of special reward. Everyone likes to be appreciated.


Attention To Group Process


Many organizations do not give adequate attention to how they work together. Decision-making methods and group protocol are often ignored until there is a major problem. 


Suggestion: Establish procedures for working together. Get consensus about the way business is conducted and the way decisions are made so that these processes are inclusive. This will increase volunteer's comfort level and desire to be a part of the group 


Adapted from: Common Problems in Volunteer Groups, by Ed Bancroft, The Annual Handbook for Group Facilitators. 

Too Many Goals


Most organizations attempt more than they can accomplish. Goals are often so broad and vague that they create frustration in volunteers, leading to a rapid turnover. 


Suggestion: Push toward specific and achievable goals that will lead to a feeling of success. That is what will sustain volunteer commitment and interest. 


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