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5 Questions Grassroots Leaders Should Ask Themselves

Posted By Camara Chambers, Director of Community Engagement, December 2, 2015
Updated: December 1, 2015
 Senior woman smiling
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes              

 

The Trailblazer Series is a set of leadership talks for people who run grassroots non-profits. On November 24th 2015, Volunteer Toronto held a session called “Great Leaders Ask The Right Questions”, facilitated by Edward Johnson, a consultant with broad international experience in leading teams and change in the finance and technology corporate sectors.

Here is a snapshot of what was covered.

  

The task of leading a team or a non-profit group can be a difficult one. Regardless of what type of leader you are or the qualities you possess, these five questions can ensure you’re the kind of leader people want to follow.

 

What do our stakeholders want?

Leaders need to be able to clearly define and understand their key stakeholders. Knowing their needs, interests and expectations is as important as being able to convey to stakeholders the benefits of being involved in your organization.

 

Am I hearing what’s being said?

When speaking with team members, leaders should aim to pay full attention to what is being communicated as well as make a conscious effort to understand the complete message being sent. The best way to do this when problem solving with your team, Johnson explains, is Listen, Ask, Decide. Asking provides the opportunity for you to summarize what you have heard and get clarification before a decision is made.

 

What motivates you?

“Motivation is on a personal level,” Johnson explains. “Leaders need to first understand what motivates that person. It is about avoiding assumptions and asking questions. It is about connecting.”

What motivates one person won’t motivate another, and so it’s necessary to get to the crux of what drives each member of your team.

 

What don’t I know?

At times, a leader will come across someone who is more skilled or knowledgeable than them in a particular area. It’s important to know your limitations and strengths. Nobody knows everything, and understanding your own blind spots and weak areas in itself is a strength.

 

What doesn’t matter?

There will be times when being a leader is going to be difficult. “When dealing with stress, a leader has to keep a clear head,” Johnson says.  “People are going to get things done, but it is about prioritization.” Knowing what’s important for your organization and what isn’t, and being able to clearly and consistently communicate that to your team to ensure they are on the same page is a crucial part of leading a group. Be highly focused, and focus determinedly on the right things. 

Looking for more great information? Attend our next Trailblazer Series on December 9th! The topic is "5 Tips For Securing Grants" with guest facilitator Anne Morais, who has over 15 years of experience writing successful grant applications. 


Camara Chambers manages Volunteer Toronto's public engagement strategy and team. This includes working with community partners, leading large-scale events and overseeing various programs that aim to encourage Torontonians to volunteer. In 2014, the community engagement team helped connect 550,000 people to volunteer positions in Toronto!

 

Tags:  charities  good leaders  grassroots groups  Grassroots organizations  how to be a leader  leadership  non-profit  questions leaders ask  Trailblazer Series 

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INFOGRAPHIC: 7 Questions You Need To Ask When Assessing and Managing Risks In Your Volunteer Roles

Posted By Kasandra James, Subscriptions Coordinator, December 1, 2015
Updated: December 1, 2015
 infographic - 7 Questions You Need To Ask When Assessing and Managing Risks In Your Volunteer Roles
  As Volunteer Toronto’s Subscriptions Coordinator, Kasandra is the first point of contact for non-profits looking for support.
She facilitates monthly Subscriber Circle discussion groups for managers and coordinators of volunteers, contributes to our
Sector Space newsletter and social media communications, and makes sure our subscriptions package continues to help
non-profit organizations build capacity through volunteer involvement.

 

Tags:  risks with volunteers  volunteer engagement  Volunteer Management  volunteer orientation  volunteer screening  volunteer supervisors  volunteer training 

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The Three “Big L’s” Of Successful Grassroots Groups

Posted By Louroz Mercader, November 26, 2015
Updated: November 24, 2015
 

 Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

 

From my years working with grassroots leaders, I’ve learned three core elements that are needed for any grassroots group to be successful. These building blocks can help a group understand the big picture of their development, solve problems and set priorities for learning and action. I like to call them the “Big L’s.”

It’s important to take the time to ensure your members know the basics of how your organization functions—what the different roles are, how decisions are made and how leaders are selected.

Many grassroots groups will get so caught up with their community work that it becomes hard to find time to sustain and grow the organization. Strong teams pay attention to issues such as how members make decisions and the way their group is structured (for example: members, committees, board of directors).

 

 

 

A strong grassroots group continually develops new knowledge, learns from its work and reflects on what it is doing.

A good habit to start is to get your team to reflect by always asking, “What works? What can be better?” to help meetings, projects and fundraisers reach their full potential.

Evaluation after each activity provides an opportunity for a group to reflect on its development and become stronger for the future.

 

 

A group’s community work is the main reason that many members join. Through this work, a grassroots group makes its community a better place to live.

One way a strong grassroots organization takes a leadership role is by working collaboratively with other organizations. These other organizations can support each other by providing expert advice or funding, while others can become partners that work with a group to carry out joint projects together to expand reach and increase impact.

 

 

Use the “3L’s” formula as a guide when establishing or maintaining your group projects. It’s a great way to keep your your team focussed, on track and growing strong together. 

 
 
As Community Outreach Coordinator for the Grassroots Growth project, Louroz reaches out to volunteer-run groups in Toronto and across Ontario to help spread the word about the project and get our services out to those who need them most. 

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3 Things To Think About When Recognizing Your Volunteers

Posted By Sammy Feilchenfeld, Training Coordinator, November 17, 2015
Updated: November 16, 2015
 

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes 

 

As Volunteer Toronto’s Training Coordinator, one of the questions I hear more than any other is “how do I recognize my volunteers?” With the United Nations International Volunteer Day fast approaching on December 5th, this is the perfect time to think about meaningful ways to thank your volunteers! We have a lot of resources and online courses on this topic, but volunteer needs and wants change all the time - the person best suited to know what kind of recognition your volunteers want is…you!

Let me break down what the research says first. In a recent survey from Volunteer Canada, we found that volunteers prefer, more than anything, to be told about the impact of their work. After that, they want to be thanked in-person, informally and prefer informal events over letters and formal events.

When organizations were asked what kind of recognition they like to give volunteers, they put thanking them informally at the top too, but follow that with letters and formal events. Based on this research, it looks like organizations and volunteers aren’t on the same page when it comes to recognition!

We know recognizing volunteers helps them feel appreciated, valued and like integral members of your team, but the wrong recognition may send the wrong message. If you have lots of volunteers, you don’t want to relegate your recognition to impersonal form letters.

 
 Graph taken from Volunteer Canada's Volunteer Recognition Study

 


So how do you recognize your volunteers in a meaningful way?

 

1. Get to know their motivations
People volunteer for many different reasons. Get to know why they’re there and what keeps them returning. Maybe your volunteers are looking for more social interactions or to gain skills for their careers. Can you think of some recognition methods that could serve those motivations? For example, if they're looking for work, a reference letter would be a great form of recognition that matches their motivations!

2. Get to know their work
Even though you may have many volunteer roles that do a lot of different things, get an idea of what your volunteers are actually doing, and how that serves your mission, to make your recognition relevant. Don’t just thank them for their work, thank them for the specific thing they did that day that made an impact!

3. Get to know their preferences
As the Volunteer Canada survey noted, it’s important to recognize your volunteers in the way they prefer. Ask your volunteers what kind of recognition they’d appreciate, and do your best to cater to that. Maybe your annual banquet can be skipped in favour of a more meaningful means of recognition.

 

It’s easy to informally recognize your volunteers every day in a meaningful way. Treat volunteers as team members and ask for their input. Ask your volunteers if they are satisfied, allow room for them to grow and make them aware of other volunteer contributions (and their impact). Most importantly – and probably most easily too – take the time to say thank you, especially on December 5, International Volunteer Day!

Check out Volunteer Toronto's online learning centre to get more recognition tips!  

 

As Volunteer Toronto's Training Coordinator, Sammy develops and delivers in-person, online and on-demand training in order to support managers and coordinators of volunteers in Toronto’s non-profit and charitable organizations. 

Tags:  how to thank your volunteers  Thanking your volunteers  Volunteer appreciation  Volunteer recognition  volunteer retention  what kind of recognition do volunteers want? 

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3 Little Books With Big Advice For Grassroots Organizations

Posted By Claire McWatt, Project Coordinator - Grassroots Growth, November 13, 2015
Updated: November 12, 2015
 
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes  

 

When just starting out, it can be extremely difficult to understand the basics of building the nonprofit of your dreams. Actually – this doesn’t just apply to new groups, but to all the small, volunteer-run community groups looking to expand. With resources stretched to the limit, and time as your largest hurdle, getting help with the logistics is a necessity.

Fortunately, Volunteer Toronto’s Grassroots Growth project is here to help! With a free suite of resources to support the little organizations that make a big impact, we are working to ensure this need is covered. The project is still in development, but until then, we have identified a few great resources that can take you from chaos to coordinated without breaking the bank.

American Nonprofit specialist Erik Hanberg has brought a refreshing spin to world of nonprofit management with his For Small Non-Profits series. The books can be purchased for less than $20 (or just $9.99 for the Kindle version), and provide a realistic, no-nonsense point of reference on essential topics such as Social Media and Fundraising.

His approach is simple – avoid using too much jargon, and recognize that not all nonprofits are built the same. Smaller groups face unique challenges, and thus the solutions should take that into account. Many grassroots groups are completely self-funded, and his guide, The Little Book of Gold: Fundraising for Small (and Very Small) Non-Profits is a great start for navigating the complicated but critical task of asking for money.

 

In The Little Book of Likes: Social Media for Small (and Very Small) Non-Profits, Hanberg uses this same relatable approach and applies it to designing a social media strategy. Often social media is a barrier for less established groups, and can be intimidating. The book, which is very small and straight to the point, is easy to read, and is useful for groups with a variety of experience levels.

  


The newest of the series, The Little Book of Boards: For Small (and Very Small) Non-Profits, is a perfect introduction to the confusing world of nonprofit governance, and can help smaller groups implement a structure that suits their unique needs. Policies and procedures are an important part of staying on track, and whether you need to implement new ones, update old ones or learn the basics before joining an established board, this book has you covered.

 

For more information, check out the author’s website, where you can find a useful blog, as well as occasional giveaways of his books for free!

 

Claire leads the development of the Grassroots Growth project’s online community of practice, including the Peer Mentorship Forum and Wiki Resource Directory. She also manages relationships with Grassroots Growth partners, handles project administration, and collaborates with the Education Coordinator and Outreach Coordinator in research, training and outreach.

 

Tags:  board of directors  fundraising  grassroots groups  Grassroots organizations  non-profits  social media  volunteerism  volunteer-run groups 

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The Ultimate Volunteer Leadership Role

Posted By Camara Chambers, Director of Community Engagement, November 12, 2015
Updated: November 11, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My volunteer experience has allowed me to meet many caring and dedicated people who want to make a difference. This has enriched me personally and professionally. I have also benefitted greatly from my 9 years as board chair with an experience that challenged and helped to grow my leadership capabilities.”

John Davis, Board Chair of Ronald McDonald House Toronto and 2015 winner of a Volunteer Toronto Legacy Award.

 


 

 

At Volunteer Toronto, we often meet seasoned professionals with great skills and experience who want to find a way to apply what they know to benefit a non-profit. For someone with an interest in a high-level leadership role, volunteering on a non-profit’s board of directors is a great way to put your skills to good use and build on your leadership experience along the way.

But before you decide to start applying for board roles, it’s important to consider whether a board member role is right for you.

 

3 things to consider:

1. Can I commit to volunteering for the length of time required? E.g. 2 or 3 years

2. Am I truly passionate about the mission of the organization?

3. Can I contribute the time necessary to be an effective board member?

 

To make this easy, we run regular informational workshops on what’s involved in being a board member. In two hours, you’ll learn everything from what a Board of Director does, what skills you’ll need to join one, whether previous board experience is needed, what you should know before you join a board, and what the benefits are of volunteering on a board.

The session ends with tips and information on how you can find a board member role. While the session isn't about matching you with the right board member role, we can certainly give you all the tools and information you’ll need to find a non-profit board that is a good match for you.

So, if you want a volunteer role that will be as rewarding as it is challenging, come to one of our workshops to find out more about what’s involved!

 

Find more information about dates of upcoming workshops and register today!

 

  Camara Chambers manages Volunteer Toronto's public engagement strategy and team. This includes working with community partners, leading large-scale events and overseeing various programs that aim to encourage Torontonians to volunteer. In 2014, the community engagement team helped connect 550,000 people to volunteer positions in Toronto!

 

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Advice For A New Volunteer Manager - Abha Govil

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, October 29, 2015

 

In the lead-up to International Volunteer Managers Day on November 5th, we decided to help the novices in the field with a little advice from those who remember what it's like to be new at Volunteer Management. 


Check out our final installment with advice from Abha Govil, Coordinator, Volunteer Services at Scarborough Centre for Healthy Communities.

 



What advice would you give? Write your thoughts in the comments section below.

Tags:  supervising volunteers  volunteer engagement  Volunteer Management  volunteer recognition  volunteer retention 

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Infographic: Getting The Right Start With Volunteer Orientation

Posted By Kasandra James, Subscriptions Coordinator, October 26, 2015
 Infographic
  As Volunteer Toronto’s Subscriptions Coordinator, Kasandra is the first point of contact for non-profits looking for support.
She facilitates monthly Subscriber Circle discussion groups for managers and coordinators of volunteers, contributes to our
Sector Space newsletter and social media communications, and makes sure our subscriptions package continues to help
non-profit organizations build capacity through volunteer involvement.

 

Tags:  group orientation  position description  subcriber circle  team spirit  volunteer ambassadors  volunteer coordination  volunteer handbook  volunteer management  Volunteer orientation  volunteer supervisors  volunteer toronto training  volunteer training 

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Advice For A New Volunteer Manager - Noah Kravitz

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, October 21, 2015

 

In the lead-up to International Volunteer Managers Day on November 5th, we decided to help the novices in the field with a little advice from those who remember what it's like to be new at Volunteer Management. 

Every Thursday until November 5th we'll be releasing a new episode! 


Check out our fourth installment with advice from Noah Kravitz, Digital Marketer and Volunteer Manager at the Furniture Bank.



What advice would you give? Write your thoughts in the comments section below.

Tags:  how to supervise volunteers  volunteer coordinators  Volunteer Management  volunteer orientation  volunteer retention  volunteer supervisors 

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Preparing Your Short-Term Volunteer Roles

Posted By Sammy Feilchenfeld, Training Coordinator, October 21, 2015
Updated: October 19, 2015
 
Estimated reading time - 3 minutes              

 

Currently, short-term volunteering is one of the biggest trends in volunteer management. More and more volunteers want to make a bigger impact in a shorter time-frame – maybe they can’t commit to long-term or recurring programs, or maybe they’re drawn to the shorter event or activity you’re running. Either way, volunteer managers, and coordinators want to know how to engage this new crop of short-term volunteers.

As Volunteer Toronto’s Training Coordinator, I meet a lot of volunteer managers and coordinators from different kinds of organizations. Some manage a few volunteers who’ve stayed on for years and years. Others bring in a thousand volunteers for two weeks and then may not see a lot of them again! In providing training and materials to help all kinds of volunteer managers do their jobs well, I’ve found the best approach is to cater to as many kinds of volunteer needs as possible.

Today, we’re releasing our newest Resource Guide & Workbook on Short-Term Volunteers. In preparing the workbook, I could see the need for this kind of information was growing as Toronto already has many festivals, single day events, short-term and seasonal volunteer activities.  You might need volunteers for your sports league that only lasts a couple of months, or you might need a lot of volunteers for a big fundraising event for one night. On top of all those events and seasonal programs, more and more volunteer managers and coordinators are seeing the value of setting up short-term projects for volunteers who want to make a big impact without a long-term commitment. How do you prepare these volunteers for their roles? And perhaps more importantly, how do you prepare your organization for short term volunteers?

To help get you started, here are a few tips straight from our new Resource Guide & Workbook:

 

  1. Screen every volunteer – even if the volunteer is short-term and may be contributing 6 hours on only one day, you must always find a way to screen your volunteers to make sure it’s a good fit – get help from existing or program volunteers to conduct phone interviews or better review applications

  2. Train every volunteer – while not every volunteer will be available for an in-person orientation, have all materials available to every volunteer through a handbook or website; you need to make sure your volunteers know and follow your basic rules and procedures and know enough about your organization and who they serve to be a good ambassador

  3. Supervise every volunteer – if your event or activity has more than a handful of volunteers, it could be very difficult to provide supervision for all of them; make sure you have senior volunteers, staff, board members and/or others you can rely on to supervise and oversee volunteer operations.

Knowing where your organization – and your volunteer program – stands in working with short-term volunteers can help you engage more of them, in ways that are both rewarding for them and helpful for your organization.

To learn more about how to deal with the challenges of engaging short-term volunteers, get better prepared for engaging them effectively, and learn some promising practices from Toronto organizations, check out our brand new Resource Guide & Workbook on Short-Term Volunteers – FREE for all Volunteer Toronto Subscribers!

Not a subscriber? Find out how subscribing to Volunteer Toronto can help you achieve volunteer management greatness!

 
As Volunteer Toronto's Training Coordinator, Sammy develops and delivers in-person, online and on-demand training in order to support managers and coordinators of volunteers in Toronto’s non-profit and charitable organizations. 

Tags:  Short-Term Volunteers  supervising volunteers  volunteer engagement  Volunteer Management  volunteer program  volunteer recognition  Volunteer Retention  volunteer training 

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Making the Change to Volunteer Management Software a Success for ALL

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, October 20, 2015
Updated: October 20, 2015
 
Estimated reading time -  5 minutes

 

Ever buy a tech product, like software, and then feel like you were left to your lonesome to figure out how to make it work or set it up? Don’t you just wish with some product purchases that you had more guidance and direction right after that purchase so you could feel better supported and armed with the confidence needed to make the best use of that software solution?

If you said ‘no’ then I will applaud you with a slow clap because you fall into that upper echelon of society that just ‘gets it.’ For the better majority of us, that transition from the software purchase to now figuring out how to use it (and use it in the best way), isn’t always an easy one. Prior to choosing your software solution you may have been using paper to manage your volunteer program or spreadsheets or perhaps you are transitioning from another software product that didn’t fully meet your volunteer program needs. Whichever scenario relates to you, the point is there is a change on the horizon and managing yourself, your team, and your volunteers through that change is a critical stage to the success of the implementation of the volunteer management software solution that was selected.

We all have different learning curves and some may just be steeper than others. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t learn how to best use it. You may just need a friendly helping hand!




This is why, at Better Impact, we have a consultative step in place to successfully aid you and your team throughout the onboarding stage. It is a critical step!

Organizations come in all shapes and sizes and Volunteer Managers/Coordinators come to the table with an array of experience and sector knowledge; thus we cannot treat all organizations the same.

Rob Bonesteel, at Better Impact, is your team’s direct contact throughout the onboarding stage. Rob is a Certified Volunteer Administrator with over 20 years of industry experience. He brings his years of experience and understanding of sector and program-based best practices to you so that you can most efficiently operate your volunteer program within the software.

Here’s what Rob Bonesteel has to say about how he helps the various organizations that he’s supporting throughout the onboarding stage:

Photo of Rob Bonesteel“In my role at Better Impact I see the entire range of volunteer managers, from those that have a solid process of management that is so rigid it is painful for them to adapt to using new tools, to organizations that are hoping our software will give them processes because they have no formal process in place. The consultation time we give to these organizations is what brings these things to light.

For those that have no process in place, I will build into our time together just how the system is/can be used and how that can help them establish processes. For those that are so rigid in their processes, I use a similar tact, which is getting them to talk about their processes and evaluate where the weaknesses of their processes are (i.e. time-consuming paper management). Then I will talk about my experiences and show them how Volunteer Impact can facilitate what they are doing without degrading the integrity of their processes.

The reality is there is no organization that has absolutely mastered volunteer engagement and it is a dynamic experience, which requires growth and adaptability. That’s why “We’re here to help!”

At Better Impact, we are more than just a company that produces volunteer management software. We are a global team, headquartered in Canada (Hamilton, Ontario), which is made up of people who have managed volunteers, are volunteers, present around the world to organizations at workshops and conferences for leaders of volunteers. We are comprised of consultants who work with leaders of volunteers and volunteer agencies to continually help move the voluntary sector forward. Our combined experience, knowledge of industry  best practices, understanding of the ongoing needs of the voluntary sector and changes in technology is what enables Better Impact to produce superior volunteer management software for you that is priced for the non-profit sector.

Images of the Better Impact software 

We invite you and your team to evaluate our volunteer management software and connect with us at Better Impact. If you are a full subscriber with Volunteer Toronto, you have the added benefit of getting our software at a discounted rate. In fact, on November 3rd, we will be hosting an online lunch N' learn live webinar with Volunteer Toronto for those interested in our software. Reserve your online seat here.

If you can’t make November 3rd, you can schedule your personal software demo with me or if you’d simply like to go over a few questions you have about the software, please schedule a phone appointment with me.

 

 
When Brandi was a Volunteer Coordinator for the 2003 World Cycling Championships in Hamilton, ON, she utilized the Volunteer Impact software product to manage over 1,000 volunteers. Now with Better Impact for over three years, she supports organizations as they evaluate the Volunteer Impact solution for their organization’s needs. She utilizes her experiences of working with volunteers and being a volunteer with a number of organizations to best assist organizations in finding the software solution that meets their needs and supporting them as they make that transition.

 

Tags:  people management  Volunteer Management  volunteer management software  volunteer management tools 

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Advice For A New Volunteer Manager - Jade Pichette

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, October 15, 2015
Updated: October 14, 2015

In the lead-up to International Volunteer Managers Day on November 5th, we decided to help the novices in the field with a little advice from those who remember what it's like to be new at Volunteer Management. 

Every Thursday until November 5th we'll be releasing a new episode! 


Check out our third installment with advice from Jade Pichette, Volunteer and Community Outreach Coordinator at Canadian Lesbian & Gay Archives



What advice would you give? Write your thoughts in the comments section below.

Tags:  advice  supervising volunteers  The6ix  tips  volunteer coordination  volunteer engagement  Volunteer Management  volunteer program  volunteerism 

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Advice For A New Volunteer Manager - Natalia Dziubaniwsky

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, October 8, 2015

In the lead-up to International Volunteer Managers Day on November 5th, we decided to help the novices in the field with a little advice from those who remember what it's like to be new at Volunteer Management. 

Every Thursday until November 5th we'll be releasing a new episode! 


Check out our second installment with advice from Natalia Dziubaniwsky, Supervisor, Volunteers & Communications at ESS Support Services

 


What advice would you give? Write your thoughts in the comments section below!

Tags:  advice  Human resources  relationships  supervising volunteers  tips  volunteer engagement  Volunteer Management  Volunteering  volunteering in Toronto 

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Advice For A New Volunteer Manager - Tia Clark

Posted By Volunteer Toronto, October 1, 2015
Updated: September 30, 2015
In the lead-up to International Volunteer Managers Day on November 5th, we decided to help the novices in the field with a little advice from those who remember what it's like to be new at Volunteer Management.

Every Thursday until November 5th we'll be releasing a new episode! 


Advice from Tia Clark, Volunteer Manager at 416 Community Support for Women


What advice would you give? Write your thoughts in the comments section below.


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How to “Not” Fire a Volunteer

Posted By Kasandra James, Subscriptions Coordinator, September 28, 2015
 

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

“How to Fire a Volunteer” is always a hot topic for volunteer managers and coordinators, and the September 23rd Subscriber Circle was no exception. A large group of volunteer managers turned out to discuss how best to go about firing volunteers. The only problem – no one actually wants to fire their volunteers! In an industry that’s constantly recruiting people for the cause, letting someone go is the complete opposite of the voluntary sector’s objectives.

As a result, the majority of the Subscriber Circle discussion focused on how to do everything possible not to fire a volunteer. The group shared interesting stories of performance problems, discussed how they tackled the daunting task of retaining troublesome volunteers and, in very few cases, the steps they took when it was time to let a volunteer go.

So instead of “How to Fire a Volunteer”, here’s a Volunteer Manager’s “How to NOT Fire a Volunteer” list.

  1. Focus on Prevention
    The first step to preventing dismissal due to poor performance is ensuring that volunteers learn to do things right from the start. Volunteers who have a clear understanding of their responsibilities, agree to a code of conduct, receive the proper training and are supervised appropriately are less likely to have performance issues.

  2. Diagnose Symptoms of Poor Performance
    When a volunteer does perform poorly it’s important to try to understand the cause of that behaviour. Find out if your volunteer understands their job requirements and whether they feel equipped to complete that job. Volunteer Managers must also pay attention to the “human factor” and how events in a person’s life can affect their performance levels.

  3. Take Action Geared to Retention
    As the first goal is always to retain volunteers, taking corrective action is a major component of any “how to not fire” plan.  Once an area for improvement has been identified, volunteer managers have a responsibility to help poorly performing volunteers improve. This plan should target the reasons for poor performance, have specific improvement objectives and establish check-points and timelines for improvement. 

  4. Get Creative with Alternatives
    If volunteer performance fails to improve despite best efforts, but dismissal still feels like an extreme course of action, it’s time to find some creative alternatives. Sometimes volunteers just aren’t a fit for their roles; find alternative avenues of service that coincide with volunteer strengths and skills. For volunteers with personal issues influencing their ability to perform their volunteer role, a vacation or suspension may be appropriate. If you think that a volunteer does not value the organization’s mission, consider referring them to another organization that they would be more suited to work with.

  5. When All Else Fails, Fire the Volunteer
    When every possible effort has been taken to retain a volunteer and the situation continues to decline; don’t be afraid to make the decision to dismiss. It is important to make dismissal a formal process, much like recruitment or training. There should also be clear rules outlining when it is time to dismiss a volunteer and how the dismissal should be handled. The dismissal of volunteers who work closely with clients or other volunteers may create a sense of uncertainty, which needs to be managed in order to maintain the efficacy of the program.

While many participants in the discussion made it clear that making the decision to fire a volunteer isn’t easy, one volunteer manager made a point that I believe resonated well with the entire group: it’s okay to say NO. Even in the voluntary sector, it’s acceptable, and sometimes necessary to make the decision not to work with a volunteer who doesn’t reflect the vision and mission of your organization.

Until that point of no return, volunteer managers will focus on recruiting, training and retaining volunteers to support their cause.

 

What do you think? To get in on the discussion, join the next Subscriber Circle, where we will be discussing Volunteer Orientation.

Not subscribed with Volunteer Toronto? Check out the many benefits of being a Full Subscriber and register here.

  As Volunteer Toronto’s Subscriptions Coordinator, Kasandra is the first point of contact for non-profits looking for support.
She facilitates monthly Subscriber Circle discussion groups for managers and coordinators of volunteers, contributes to our
Sector Space newsletter and social media communications, and makes sure our subscriptions package continues to help
non-profit organizations build capacity through volunteer involvement.

 

Tags:  Conflict Resolution  Problem Volunteers  volunteer engagement  Volunteer help  Volunteer Management 

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