Volunteers can be found at many different types of organizations and are an important part of the work that is done by many nonprofit organizations (NPO). When working with volunteers there are many different aspects that have to be looked at for the volunteers and the organization to be successful. An organization like a NPO that utilizes volunteers has to make sure that they are aware of the liabilities that come with using volunteers.
This is very important since every year there are over ninety million Americans that donate their time to organizations as volunteers (Grossman & Furano, 2000). This is one reason that an organization needs to make sure that they have a successful volunteer manager or volunteer management team in place. Volunteers do not only need a successful volunteer management team, but a successful volunteer recruitment and retention team is needed so that those volunteers that are an asset to an organization are given a reason to continue to volunteer for that organization.
Without the retention team, volunteers are not going to want to continue to give their time to the organization. Liabilities when Utilizing Volunteers Volunteers like some paid staff bring with them certain liabilities when working for an organization. Volunteers have to be trained to ensure that the job they are doing is being done properly. Even with training though there may still be some liabilities with volunteers, that is why organizations have to ensure that there is an effective risk management practice and procedures in place (Martinez, 2003).
When it comes to liability, a NPO needs to ensure that the behavior of the volunteers is not putting their clients at risk, but also the organization. Organizations are not only liable for the behavior of the volunteers, but are also liable for if the volunteers get injured while volunteering at the organization. Volunteer Injury Liabilities NPO are not only liable for the actions and behaviors of the volunteers, they are also liable for any injuries that may happen while the volunteers are working at the organization.
An organization has the duty to protect the volunteers that are working for them, just like their paid employees (Martinez, 2003). It is important for the organization to ensure that all volunteers are properly trained and that all workplace risks are taken care of in the proper manner to keep volunteers from being harmed (Martinez, 2003). Since liability does not differentiate between paid staff and volunteers it is critical to ensure that all are trained properly and the organization is ensuring that they are ensuring the staff and volunteers safety.
Volunteer Recruitment When looking at the number of paid staff a typical NPO has there are very few, most of a NPO’s staff are made up of volunteers. This is one reason why recruiting volunteers that are going to be successful with the organizations is key. In NPO volunteers can play many different roles that help the clients of the organization, these roles can include direct service, administration, supporting duties, and fund raising (Wymer & Starnes, 2001).
When looking at the different roles volunteers play, it shows how essential they are to NPO. This is one reason why when recruiting volunteers organizations have a strict screening process to ensure that the volunteers are going to be successful with the organization. When it comes to recruitment that is where a volunteer program manager (VPM) is very important to insure that volunteers that are recruited are motivated and skilled (Wymer & Starnes, 2001). Recruiting by VPMs can be done in one of two ways, either directly or indirectly.
Direct recruitment involves the NPO themselves appealing to the volunteer, while indirect recruitment involves other institutions recruiting volunteers for the NPO (Wymer & Starnes, 2001). Recruitment will not be successful with out a successful VPM, there are qualifications for the VPM that need to be met or the organization will suffer. Volunteer Program Managers With volunteers there has to be a program manager to ensure that they are performing the task that they were given to do.
Volunteer managers have to be able to use different tactics to encourage the volunteer’s performance and not discourage them form doing their job. One tactic is using the concept of face, which has two different dimensions (Adams & Shepard, 1996). The two concepts of face include negative face or autonomy and positive face or social approval and liking (Adams & Shepard, 1996). Volunteers need to be recognized for the time they are giving to the organization, but this needs to be done in a positive manner so that it does not cause the volunteer to leave the organization.
Volunteer program managers are the ones that most volunteers are going to be in contact with if there are issues or if they have questions about what they are suppose to be doing. This means that the volunteer program manager needs to ensure that they are able to deal with situations that may arise and address them in a timely manner. VPMs have to ensure that they have written policies that govern the volunteer program and that they are used to develop a consistent pattern of volunteer involvement (Brudney, 2000).
These policies not only need to include what needs to be done as a volunteer, but also a job description so that the volunteer is fully aware of their job (Brudney, 2000). Besides policies a VPMs job is to ensure that they are matching the volunteers’ skills with the appropriate job, recognize the contributions by the volunteer, measure the impact volunteers have had on the organization annually, provide volunteers with training and development, and train paid staff to work with volunteers (Eisner, Grimm Jr. , Maynard, & Washburn, 2009).
Retention of Volunteers Once volunteers start with an organization it is important to do all the can be done to keep them. Key components to retain volunteers include recognition, training and professional development, along with screening the volunteers to ensure they are a proper fit for the organization (Hager & Brudney, 2004). This may require some extra work from the volunteer management staff, but in the end it is crucial to ensure that volunteers are getting what is needed for them to be successful with the organization.
Beyond the items that are listed NPO can do other things to ensure retention of volunteers which includes providing a culture that is welcoming to the volunteers, making sure to allocate the resources needed to support the volunteers, and give them the power to enlist other volunteers for the organization (Hager & Brudney, 2004). There are also other things that influence the retention of volunteers, it is not all just training and recognition. One of the items is ensuring that the volunteer feels accomplished through the development they are receiving and feel like they belong at the NPO (Skoglund, 2006).
The volunteers also need to be able to show their true identity without being judged and have the ability to be themselves (Skoglund, 2006). Finally, a volunteer does not want to continually do the same job over and over, they want to have the opportunity to experience new things and be given the potential for personal and professional growth (Skoglund, 2006). Conclusion Volunteers are an important part of organizations that utilize them, but there are many different aspects that have to be taken into consideration for a volunteer to be successful with the organization.
The volunteers not only need to be successful, so does the organization and for this to happen the organization needs to ensure that their volunteers have all the resources that are needed for them to perform their jobs to the fullest. With proper volunteer recruitment, management, retention of volunteers, and all liabilities covered NPOs can ensure that they will be successful. Volunteers are the key of so many organizations and without them, many of the NPOs that serve people today would not be there.