Communities & Businesses Are Deeply Rooted in Volunteers
Volunteers make a difference in life every day, as they are able to deliver critical services that can help keep neighborhoods clean and safe, they can act as teachers and mentors, they can educate the public on health and safety, and repair infrastructure. The truth is that nonprofits, among many other organizations, would not exist if not for their help.
To put it into perspective, let’s take a look at some key areas that are volunteer rooted:
- Governance: Volunteers can be great policy makers. When it comes to serving on a board of directors or a committee, volunteers can utilize their passion and strategic thinking to line up with the organization’s goals.
- Programming: Volunteers are extremely helpful when delivering service to clients. They reduce cost, and are extremely dedicated due to their passion for the organization’s objectives. They contribute free expertise and experience that can enhance programs in more ways than one.
- Fund Development: Volunteers are particularly helpful when it comes to raising money for a cause. They can act as an extension of the organization, reaching out to larger donors, more volunteers and the media.
Volunteers and Employees: A Successful Collaboration
It’s not uncommon for there to be internal resistance when volunteers are involved. It’s important to secure organizational commitment and support of the value of volunteers from all parties to successfully work in collaboration. To build a strong foundation and promote positive relationships, organizations must address any concerns between staff and volunteers. Here are a few strategic planning tips for a successful collaboration:
- Define roles and responsibilities of each volunteer and staff member.
- Train, supervise and recognize volunteers accordingly.
- Utilize each staff and volunteer’s skills to enhance each other’s strengths.
- Involve staff when designing volunteer positions to incorporate their insight and gain buy-in.
- Ensure policies and procedures are in place to address all aspects of volunteer involvement.
- Educate each staff member on how to effectively involve volunteers.
When staff have the resources they need, you set the stage for successful staff-volunteer relations.
Learn more on balanced staff-volunteer relations : Workplaces that work.
The Value of Volunteers
There is a certain societal and economic importance associated with volunteering. The value of volunteers goes beyond monetary reflection, as they help improve social cohesion and awareness. Their economic value reflects cost and the intangible benefits associated with volunteering. Just as an organization utilizes a volunteer’s time, a volunteer can use the opportunity to develop skills and insights that may be helpful in their future endeavors.
The economic value of volunteering in Canada is in the ballpark of an astounding $50 billion each year.
To try and quantify the act of volunteering is difficult, but one can agree the economic value is substantial enough that it should be taken into consideration.
Learn more : An economist's case for volunteering
Abbotsford Community Services:
A Story on Volunteer Management
We sat down with Peena Gill, Coordinator of Volunteers and HR Services at Abbotsford Community Services to tell us the impact that volunteer programs have on the organization and what they do to manage volunteers effectively.
1. How does Abbotsford Community Services make volunteers feel appreciated?
With about 80 programs, each one having their own coordinator, all volunteers receive a manual when they sign up, which contains the contact information of each coordinator, including my contact information if they wish to speak with someone higher up.
Volunteers receive thank yous, feedback every 3 months and for National Volunteer Week, Abbotsford Community Services is hosting a BBQ for all volunteers.
2. How do volunteers make a difference for Abbotsford Community Services?
Without volunteers, some programs wouldn’t run!
Programs such as the Food Bank, Meals on Wheels, Income Tax Preparation for Seniors , Lunch with the Bunch and Settlement Services are heavily based on volunteers. Although these programs do have some paid employees, they wouldn’t function without the volunteers.
All the community-based programs rely on volunteers.
3. What unique things are you responsible for from an HR perspective to make sure your volunteers have great experiences?
It’s important to be open and honest with volunteers and allow them to feel comfortable coming to you if there’s an issue-- making sure they’re happy.
My role concentrates heavily on risk management and keeping everyone safe. Screening people thoroughly and making sure the right decisions are made based on the screening and criminal background checks is of great importance.
4. How do you track, and measure, the value volunteers bring to Abbotsford Community Services?
Just recently a volunteer database was created for all coordinators to add to. We can now track the feedback every volunteer receives every 3 months, and give them detailed answers.
The organization has widened its umbrella, so we now use software to help organize all our volunteers.
Thanking Volunteers Across the Twitterverse
If you want to thank a volunteer on Twitter, use the hashtag #NVW2016. Here are some great 'thank you' tweets we saw from some of our Non-Profit clients.
It's national volunteer week! Thank you to all of you who volunteer. You are the roots of strong communities. https://t.co/6Q09ozWfSF— YMCA Calgary (@YMCA_Calgary) April 11, 2016
So glad to kick off National Volunteer Week! FACS volunteers help kids and families in so many ways. Mentors,... https://t.co/WqDxDpJ1sp— FACS Niagara (@FACSNiagara) April 11, 2016
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