Working with Volunteers





Your Volunteers




Your fundraising volunteers will be representing your organization.  They need to be trained and motivated to do the work they volunteered for. Often, volunteers who have a genuine desire to get job experience or volunteers who have a great interest in a specific cause are those will work the hardest and will do what needs to be done.  However, you can make all your volunteers more enthusiastic about helping your fundraising plan if you listen to what your volunteers want or need from their volunteer experience. Providing a pleasant work environment, interesting tasks, and even motivating them through prizes or praise can make your volunteers feel better about working for your group. Building a team atmosphere through periodic meetings can also help motivate your team.

Volunteers are not employees

Your volunteers are like your donors - they are people who offer their services to you at no charge. It is insensitive and often ineffective to treat them as employees. You should also try to give your volunteers some value for their experiene as well as periodically express your appreciation for your workers, much as you would express your appreciation for the money that donors give.  Your volunteers are offering you a valuable resource by offering you their time. Do not squander this gift or take it for granted. If your volunteers are overworked, outsource some of that work to new volunteers. If you are overworked, try asking to see whether any volunteers would be interested in taking on a larger workload.

Training your Volunteers

Once you have some volunteers willing to help you with your fundraising, you will need to explain to them what you expect from your group and your volunteers. Some volunteers have little or no work experience while others are professionals or even leaders in their field. In either case, you will have to let them know how you want things to be done at your non-profit group.

To train your volunteers, set aside some time to show your new recruits around the offices or workspace of your organization. Tell them what the group does and how the group got started. Allow your group to ask questions and be sure to give them your fundraising plan so that they can see how they will fit into your group’s effort. Also, show them any specific tasks that need to be done (operating a cash register, for example, or writing out a tax receipt properly) in order for them to do their volunteer work well.

Dealing with Conflicts among Yolunteers

If you have trouble with volunteers - either because volunteers do not seem to be doing their work or seem to be creating drama, be sure that you continue to work with your volunteers rather than taking on an employer or disciplinary role. In many cases, conflict or idle time can be avoided by clearly telling volunteers what is to be done and by what time. Ask for volunteers for specific tasks, assign those fundraising tasks, and then set a deadline on those tasks. That way, each person will know what they are to do and by when.

Many conflicts among volunteers can be avoided with a little planning. Try to match tasks with volunteer personalities. Outgoing volunteers will often do well interacting with donors, while quieter volunteers can be quite useful handling email or letter correspondence or doing market research. If you notice tensions among volunteers, offering to let volunteers work apart until things settle down can be effective. On a larger fundraising project, there is often enough room for everyone to do a job that suits their personality.

Keep the lines of Communication open to all

Above all, keep lines of communication with your volunteers open. A team attitude can go a long way. If your workers feel comfortable talking to you, they will be happy to let you know what you need to know in order to organize your volunteer work force most efficiently.