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Volunteers at Your Charity Event, P2: Select, Train, Manage

Posted by Ashley Shaw on 3/9/17 11:00 AM

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On Tuesday, we talked about how to get volunteers to help at your charity event. But, as promised, that wasn’t the only volunteer-related topic we’ll be covering. It was just Part 1 in a three part series.

Part 2: How to Select, Train, and Manage Volunteers at Your Charity Event

Part 3: How to Keep Volunteers Returning to Your Charity Event

I’m making these posts specific to charity events because that’s what GiveSmart is known for. However, feel free to apply them to any type of volunteer need.

15 Tips on Selecting, Training, and Managing the Volunteers at Your Charity Event

Once you’ve got all those amazing volunteers lining up at your door, you need to know what to do with them. That’s why I’ve come up with 15 tips on selecting, training, and managing the volunteers at your events.

Select the Right Volunteers

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Getting volunteers to sign up to help you isn’t enough. You need to make sure you’ve got good, reliable volunteers. It would be better to be short on help than to get help that actually makes things more difficult.

Here are five tips on selecting the volunteers who are right for you:

1: Know (and state) position requirements.

Before you ever start the volunteer process, you should know what you are looking for. And you should put it in your position summary. This will help you in two ways:

  1. You’ll get a better group of potential volunteers over all, as, theoretically, only qualified people will apply when they know what you want them to do.
  2. When it comes time to interview candidates (see Tip 2), you’ll know exactly what you want.

2: Actually interview candidates.

If you need five helpers, and five sign up, then it seems like an easy decision. Or maybe you have a process of accepting people as they sign up. Or maybe you plan on interviewing some people, but not everyone.

Whatever your situation, just know that it is wise to interview all of your volunteers. It will help you make wise decisions about how to use volunteers even when you know you will be using them because you will know their talents and skills.

3: Don’t just accept everyone.

Once you’ve done your interviews, be discerning. It’s great that people want to help you. However, that doesn’t mean you have to accept. Be polite and professional, but if you have no room for an applicant or their skills, personality, etc., don’t blend well with what you need, keep looking.

4: Keep notes on former volunteers.

Whenever you use a volunteer, keep track of what they did, how they helped, etc. This way, when you go to use them again, you’ll be better able to determine what positions they are going to be the most helpful in.

5: Consult with anyone who should be consulted.

Don’t just make these decisions unilaterally. Talk to anyone on your team who will be working with the volunteers. They may have insights or opinions that you hadn’t considered.

Train Your Volunteers

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Once you’ve got a great team of volunteers ready and willing to help you, you need to make sure you give them the tools and means to actually do so. That’s why training is so vital.

Here are five tips on training your volunteers:

6: Make assignments by skills and interests.

Do you have someone volunteering with you that’s a professional photographer? Then give them the task of taking pictures at your event. Someone great with technology? Let them help with an nonprofit tech or AV you have.

You get it. You’ve interviewed these people and found their skills and interests. So take advantage of that by giving them roles where they will really feel happy and comfortable and in which they can truly help you do something special.

7: Have a formal onboarding.

Have an introductory onboarding for any new volunteer (or to past volunteers who are working on something new.) Then, think about refreshing the onboarding at regular intervals.

8: Give proper (and your organization-specific) training.

Even if people know how to do the basics of what you are asking, and even if they know how to do those tasks better than you (see your professional photographer who you assigned to take pictures for you), they can still go through organization-specific training.

Let them know what your organization is looking for specifically. For example, you want lots of pictures of the guests, but none of the decorations. Or you want pictures of guests, but only specific guests or guests who have signed a permission form. You want candid shots versus you want only staged pictures.

Or, using the tech expert you’ve got helping run your event tech: you may want certain features used but not others. You may have specific goals. They may be great with technology in general, but need an initial training to the particular tech you’ll be using.

Whatever you want from them, communicate that with your volunteer during a training session.

9: Take advantage of any third-party trainings.

Does a service you are using (and which your volunteer will be helping) offer their own training? Make sure your volunteers take it when needed.

10: Refresh as needed.

Enough said.

Manage Your Volunteers

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You’ve got great volunteers who know what they are doing, but that doesn’t mean you can let them manage yourself.

Here are the final five tips - these are on how to manage volunteers:

11: Don’t just have volunteers to have volunteers.

There more you have, the harder they are to manage. That’s why you should only have the amount of volunteers you actually need.

12: Delegate managerial responsibilities.

When you have a lot of volunteers, it’s hard for you to manage all of them by yourself. That’s why you should delegate the responsibility to a volunteer coordinator or to the specific members of your team in charge of the areas where the volunteers will be helping.  

13: Have, share, and enforce volunteer policies.

You should create specific volunteer policies dictating how you expect them to act and represent your organization. You should make sure that they know and understand these policies.

And then, most importantly, you should enforce the policies.

14: Remember they are volunteers, not workers.

There are certain things you want from your volunteers and your employees:

  • Timeiliness
  • Reliability
  • A good attitude

However, you must always remember that they aren’t volunteers. And managing them as if they are can have negative effects on morale and performance; and they could possibly even lead to legal and financial claims.  

15: Make time for your volunteers.

You are busy. Everybody gets that. But you (or someone on your team) needs to be available to talk to volunteers, answer their questions, make them feel appreciated, and ensure they are getting things done correctly.

Now You Just Need to Get Them Back to Your Next Event: The Wrap-Up

Got any more tips? Share them with us in the comments or on social media!

And don’t forget to tune back in next Tuesday for tips on how to keep your volunteers coming back event after event.

Until then, though, get our free ebook, “How to Host an Amazing Charity Event”, in order to get more insights into how to throw a great fundraiser.

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Topics: Volunteers

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