Finding the right person to manage volunteers can really make your volunteer program blossom. Volunteer managers recruit, supervise, train, and celebrate your volunteers. A manager who has experience in the field, excellent communication skills, and is highly organized can provide the leadership needed for a high-impact volunteer program.
Too often volunteer managers are balancing a wide variety of tasks outside of managing volunteers, and have few resources or support. In smaller organizations the role of ‘volunteer manager’ may not exist; instead an individual who may have many other responsibilities is asked to manage the organization’s volunteers. In larger organizations the volunteer manager may be overwhelmed having to coordinate with many different programs and respond to requests from many different people in the organization. In both cases the overall volunteer program will suffer if the volunteer manager does not have sufficient authority and resources to do their job well.
To get the most out of your volunteer program you need to designate a volunteer management position. Start with a detailed job description. Here is an example of a thorough position description for a volunteer manager from a museum: volunteer manager position description. Notice the large range of responsibilities.
Support, training, and networking
Give your volunteer manager or coordinator the support they need and consult with them frequently about the ways they can bring the right kinds of people and resources to your organization. Make sure staff at all levels of your organization know the value that volunteers bring to the organization.
It is important that volunteer manager or coordinator has had formal volunteer management training. Check with the volunteer center in your area or local United Way or other nonprofit training resource.
- In Washington state: Volunteer Centers of Washington, in particular, United Way of King County offers volunteer management training
- Nonprofit Ready Volunteer Management training
- Volunteer Match Learning Center
Like all professionals, volunteer managers will benefit from getting to know other volunteer managers. No amount of on-line research or reading can replace the value to talking with someone who is doing the same work and facing the same challenges. in Washington the Volunteer Administrators Network is a great way to get to know other volunteer managers and to share the successes of the field. If you are in another state, search for "Volunteer Administrators Network" and see if there is a similar group in your area.