Volunteers are an integral part of the implementation of the components' strategic plan. Non-executive committee/board members or committee chairs/members are often the ones fulfilling objectives set by the executive committee or board of directors.
A comprehensive and well-thought out volunteer structure is an important component for developing successful volunteers.
Five factors to a program:
Step 1 - Determine Volunteer Structure and Roles
- Volunteer Structure and Position Descriptions
- Volunteer Application and Vetting
A volunteer structure includes a description of a position’s purpose, responsibilities, time commitment and benefits and is in defined before volunteer recruitment efforts begin. A well-defined structure will help explain a position to a potential volunteer and help that volunteer be successful in choosing and executing the role. It should also help decrease unwanted volunteer turnover.
Determine Where Volunteers Are Needed
The component should determine the long standing committees or short term task forces that are needed in the organization and review these on a yearly basis. All volunteer positions should have a clear purpose and timeline for action tied to the organizations mission and vision, bylaws or guiding principles and strategic plan.
Create Position Descriptions
Create Committee Descriptions (if applicable)
- Position Title
- Length of Term (number of months or years)
- Time Commitment
- Position Scope and Reporting Requirements
- Skill Requirements
- Benefits of the Position
Step 2 - Recruitment
The identification, cultivation and selection of potential volunteers should be an annual focus. Recruitment should not be done only when there are position openings. This allows time to build a pool of potential candidates and allow time for potential volunteers to become acquainted with the roles and meet volunteers in current positions.
Step 3 - Volunteer Application and Vetting
- Create a short application that can be distributed to interested volunteers. Followed by setting application deadlines and submission dates (create a call to action). Try and implement an easy process to express an interest in applying and accessing a volunteer application. (i.e., a dedicated email address, short survey link). Upon receiving applications, assign a nominating committee who review the applications and contact candidates to interview. After selecting the volunteers, a welcome letter needs to be sent welcoming the volunteer and followed up with a telephone call.
- If there are people who were strong candidates, but were not selected, maintain a good relationship with these people. It may be worth considering non-selected volunteers for other volunteer positions or grooming these people to take on a volunteer position in the future.
Step 4 - Training and Mentoring
Onboarding new volunteers is important to training an engaged, confident and valuabled volunteer.
- Share committee and position descriptions.
- Acquaint them to the strategic plan and organizational goals.
- Provide an introduction for the new volunteer to a fellow volunteer who has been with the organization for a longer amount of time. This person can help the new volunteer answer questions and become comfortable with his or her role.
- Share the overall volunteer structure with the new volunteer so they are aware how their work will fit into the organization.
- Schedule a transition meeting between the individual leaving the position and the new volunteer.
Step 5 - Maintenance/Follow-Up
Use an evaluation to assess the experience of those volunteering:
- How effective was the executive committee, board, or committee training received?
- How clear where the roles and responsibilities?
- How organized was the committee or task force meetings?
- Was time used effectively?
- Did you feel recognized and appreciated?
- What adjectives best describe the volunteer experience?
- What professional or personal skills were gained from the volunteer experience?
- What could the component do to foster a greater spirit of community?
- What advice would you provide to enhance the volunteer experience in the organization?
It is important to recognize that leaders have contributed effectively to the mission and vision of the organization. Recognition is synonymous with the volunteer’s paycheck.
Some tips on recognition:
- Create volunteer announcements recognizing individuals for their service. Announce their names in the ACOEM Community, component news letter or send an e-mail to all members of the component.
Consider creating a volunteer coordinator position for the executive committee or board to assist in recruiting and training volunteers.