Volunteers are an integral part of the implementation of the DPG, MIG, and affiliates’ 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. It is crucial to the success of the DPG, MIG, or affiliate, to elect and appoint volunteers to the appropriate positions and set them up for success. Executive committee or board members should only execute objectives and tactics when assigned to a committee and identified as a task lead, otherwise doing so may result in neglect of board duties and legal responsibilities.
A comprehensive and well-thought out volunteer structure is an important component for developing successful volunteers. Without a clear, accurate structure, volunteers may feel lost and that their time is wasted – two things that prevent volunteers from succeeding in their positions and, most likely, from returning for another volunteer year.
A well-prepared program includes five components:
Step 1 - Determine Volunteer Structure and RolesA 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 DPG, MIG, or affiliate should determine the long standing committees or short term task forces that are needed in the organization and review these on a yearly basis. This can be determined by reviewing the strategic plan, policies, and procedures to understand where volunteers are needed, how many volunteers are needed for each objective/task and for how long. 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. Do not keep a position because it has always been done that way in the past. Make sure there are applicable roles. This will help drive position and committee progress.
Create Position Descriptions
Create clear, accurate position descriptions. All volunteer position descriptions should include:
Create clear, accurate committee purposes (if applicable). All committees should include a description of the general purpose, prioritized objectives and committee size.
Step 2 - RecruitmentThe identification, cultivation and selection of potential volunteers should be an annual focus, not a last minute search. 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
After recruitment is finished and potential volunteers have been identified, it is important to vet the volunteers to ensure placement of the right individuals in the right roles.
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
Step 5 - Maintenance/Follow-Up
Volunteer EvaluationUse an evaluation to assess the experience of those volunteering. Feedback should be utilized to enhance volunteer programming.
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: