A Theoretical and Practical Approach to Volunteer Management
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Volunteerism has been an essential partner in America's growth and progress; it is a source of our country's enduring strength. Americans have always volunteered in great numbers: in community services, politics, religious causes, health care, schools, youth activities, and numerous other arenas. They volunteer in many different capacities: as service club members, fund raisers, board members. youth group leaders, political organizers, peer counselors, museum docents, etc. There is no shortage of volunteers in America, but there is a lack of knowledge of how to find them, attract them and retain and develop them. There are many misconceptions about volunteers among professional and non-professional staffs. Many people do not realize that volunteers are not free; it takes time and effort to train, supervise, and evaluate them. Time and effort are also spent in providing volunteers with the appreciation and recognition they need. Volunteers must be listened to, and problems they are having or creating must be solved. All of these things cost the organization staff time, supplies, telephone calls, etc. that must be taken into account by the organization that wishes to use volunteers. Additionally, it is often difficult to balance the needs of the volunteers, the staff, and the "clients" of the organization. To recruit and retain workers who are not motivated by the need for a paycheck takes special sensitivity and skill. Therefore, volunteer organizations must realize that they have to take the time and effort to plan for their volunteer staff, just as time and effort is taken to plan for a paid staff. A volunteer program manager needs to address the same issues as their counterparts in the human resource division of businesses in terms of job design, selection, motivation, and worker recognition. While business planning is no surprise, few volunteer organizations or individuals are as serious about planning. Planning is not only important for success, but essential. Direction and prioritization of a volunteer program will equal a more efficient use of volunteer efforts. · This means that the organization will provide maximum service to the community and have less volunteers leave because they feel that they are wasting their time.