At Go Volunteer Africa, we have been coordinating volunteers since 2007 and its one job; we have fallen in love with. Volunteer Coordinators help an organization run smoothly. For anyone considering a volunteer coordinator position, this is definitely both an exciting and difficult field. This is not a job for just anyone. If you don’t enjoy working closely with people then we would not recommend this field. Working with volunteers can be very challenging and demanding.
One of the greatest challenges is knowing there are so many people wanting to volunteer, and even less who will be interested in your organization. The struggle comes from reaching all of those people who can be an asset to your organization. The volunteer coordinator position is not really one of those careers that people set out to obtain.
Instead, people usually get involved by volunteering or perhaps working with an organization, and then if a volunteer coordinator position opens up, their experience with volunteering may lead them in that direction. Though this is a difficult field, we do really love this job. It’s really rewarding because you are managing people who do this for the love of doing it, not because they are getting paid to do it. You get to meet some of the best people of your life.
Working as a volunteer coordinator, you’ll manage all elements of volunteering either within your own organization or on behalf of the organization for which you are recruiting volunteers. The role involves assessing and meeting an organization’s needs through the recruitment, placement and retention of volunteers. The role of a volunteer coordinator has gained increased recognition as a profession within its own right, although in smaller organization it is sometimes combined with another role.
As a volunteer coordinator, you won’t have a job if you don’t keep your volunteer roster full. Not only that, you must ensure that the volunteers you manage are excited to participate in your organization’s events and projects. Enjoy success in your job by consistently recruiting volunteers, motivating the ones you have and making sure everyone has a good time working for a worthy cause.
Volunteer Coordinators are the point of contact between the volunteers and the organization. However, not many people know about this challenging and important field. In order to understand what it means to be a volunteer coordinator, what skills it takes, and how one might get involved, we share with you the tips becoming an effective volunteer coordinator
KNOW YOUR ROLE
The volunteer coordinator is vital to the success of any organization. The primary job of the volunteer coordinator is to recruit volunteers for your various programs and projects, and that the job requires to “wear many hats.”
Those different “hats” we call them “Three R’s”—recruitment, retention, and recognition. In terms of recruitment, volunteer coordinators must find volunteers for programs and advertise any volunteer opportunities. For example at Go Volunteer Africa there are a variety of programs in need of volunteers, and part of our work job is making sure people are aware of those programs.
Fulfilling all of the responsibilities of a volunteer coordinator also involves learning and acquiring skills to deal with many people. A person must have certain skills and characteristics in order to efficiently manage hundreds of volunteers. The three most important qualities for a volunteer coordinator are good communication skills, patience, and a good attitude. Communication is an important part of managing volunteers and believes the ability to communicate stems from being a people person. You have got to be able to talk to people. If you can’t relate to your volunteers, you’re not going to be successful. You’ve got to definitely be able to train people. You have to know how to convey info in a way that’s fun but also gets your points across. That’s a part of motivating your volunteers and making sure they know what is expected of them.”
Perform a needs assessment for your organization and set goals based on your findings. This helps you avoid operating in a state of crisis management, where you’re desperately seeking volunteers at the last minute for a project — or even stepping in yourself. For example, if your organization holds a craft bazaar every December, determine your volunteer needs and start recruiting in August or even July.
Always be looking for new places to promote your organization and its volunteer opportunities. Make networking part of your job, and you’ll likely receive invitations to talk to clubs, colleges, universities and churches and meet potential volunteers. Be honest with potential volunteers about the time commitment and energy involved. If you need someone to dress up like a lion in the middle of July for a booth at a street fair, let potential volunteer know it’s a hot and sweaty job.
Volunteer coordinators are also responsible for making sure that the people who are giving up their time to the organization have all the necessary tools and information to do the most good. Retention depends on ensuring that volunteers feel like they are making a difference and getting the most out of the time they serve. Volunteers need to feel valued, and a volunteer coordinator makes sure they do.
LOOSEN THE REINS
Many volunteer coordinators were once themselves volunteers for the organization. This may lead to micromanaging, because you know firsthand what you want volunteers to do. An effective volunteer coordinator adequately trains volunteers, and then steps away. To ensure good results, make your expectations clear and focus on the results rather than the methods that volunteers are using to reach the goal.
One of the things that volunteers expect when they are giving their time freely to your organization is that you’re going to know what you are doing, and you’re going to have everything together. If you tell them you’re going to do something they expect you to do it and to do it on time. It’s really important to make that good impression.
Local organizations that rely on volunteers also rely on skilled volunteer coordinators. It takes a certain type of person to keep volunteers informed and inspire them to stay with your cause. Being organized, having the patience to work well with people, and communicating effectively are some of these most important skills a person needs to manage volunteers.
While people often volunteer for altruistic reasons, that’s not the only reason. Chances are, your volunteers are eager to become part of a community working for a common cause, and are hoping to have fun and make some new friends along the way. Facilitate this process by regularly thanking volunteers with small gifts; recognizing them at luncheons; and holding events to allow them to get to know one another. Host a kite-flying event, for example, or feature several of them in your company’s newsletter, then make certain each featured volunteer gets a copy.
Are you interested in finding meaningful volunteer opportunities in Africa or do you want to post your opportunities for others to see email us at: email@example.com or give us a call | WhatsApp | Telegram | Viber | Imo at +254-796-786292 to talk to a Program Specialist.