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Improving Volunteer Coordination: Tips, Tweaks, And Best Practices

Volunteers are like electricity. They are a highly valuable asset that many organizations need for survival. However, without proper structure and management, this asset is spread thin, or worse, goes to waste.

Coordinators are wires that help electricity flow smoothly and allow both organizations and volunteers to reap the top benefits of an effective partnership.

Despite the utter importance of excellent volunteer coordination, only a few organizations know how to implement it. Let's take a closer look at volunteer coordinators, their jobs, and useful volunteer coordination tips.

What Is Volunteer Coordination?

Volunteer coordination is the process of managing volunteers and their activities from recruitment to retention.  This involves guiding volunteers through their lifecycle with the organization to ensure top productivity.

The goal of high-quality volunteer coordination is to help volunteers achieve success with the organization through structured operation while maintaining high levels of satisfaction for both parties.

Volunteer coordination has many different aspects. People responsible for ensuring excellence in coordination are volunteer coordinators. 

Who Is a Volunteer Coordinator?

A volunteer coordinator is a professional volunteer supervisor, guide, manager, organizer, and mentor. The key goals of these specialists are:

  • Recruiting the necessary number of volunteers
  • Ensuring smooth communication
  • Driving volunteer retention
  • Making sure that volunteers are successful within the organization
  • Supporting organizational values

To be a successful volunteer coordinator, it's not enough to fulfill a specific set of responsibilities. It's vital to nurture the success of volunteers while they work for the non-profit. When volunteers succeed, so does the non-profit volunteer coordinator and so does the organization.

In a volunteer coordinator's job description, you could find such responsibilities as:

  • Arranging seamless communication between the organization's departments to identify opportunities for volunteering
  • Recruiting suitable volunteers for the available roles
  • Gathering information about each volunteer to help streamline their work, recognize their efforts, and drive retention
  • Scheduling volunteer tasks according to the organization's needs
  • Regularly communicating with volunteers to make sure they are succeeding
  • Maintaining all the necessary paperwork and accumulating data related to the program
  • Designing volunteer recognition strategies and coordinating related activities and events

While organizations try to list precise responsibilities in job descriptions, volunteer coordinators end up wearing many more hats. They are the glue that holds together volunteer programs and the "go-to" people that staff and volunteers ask to solve all volunteer-related issues.

Volunteer Coordinator Skills

To become a person who can handle volunteer recruitment, training, reporting, and supervision, a potential program volunteer coordinator has to have a specific set of skills:

  • Communication (networking, presentation, active listening, rapport development)
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Empathy
  • Ability to motivate and inspire
  • Strong organizational skills
  • Negotiation skills
  • Problem-solving abilities
  • Management skills
  • Leadership abilities
  • Multitasking
  • Ability to produce clear reports, gather data, and maintain information
  • Flexibility
  • Commitment to the organization

Many volunteer coordination experts are volunteers themselves. Skills these specialists gain while volunteering are a major asset that helps them succeed as coordinators.

Volunteer Coordination: Best Practices

Volunteer coordination is a tandem of art and science. Working with people who are volunteering their time differs tremendously from managing those who get paid for their effort.

Knowing how to help volunteers succeed while improving the experience for the staff and management requires the implementation of specific practices.

Set Strict Guidelines for Recruitment

Recruitment is one of the key responsibilities that volunteer coordinators handle. The right approach to the process can simplify the rest of the tasks tremendously.

Guidelines to consider:

  • The level of screening for each group of volunteers
  • The time you can allocate for volunteer interviews
  • The channels you use for recruitment
  • Existing volunteer database

The structure is critical to successful volunteer coordination. If you know the exact guidelines, timeframes, and requirements, you streamline the recruitment process and simplify volunteer coordination in the future.

Focus on Volunteer Engagement  

An engaged volunteer is a successful volunteer. If you improve volunteer engagement, you can reduce churn, increase productivity, and enhance communication. To streamline engagement, consider:

  • Arranging detailed orientation and training (ideally, with digital resources that help the onboarding process even when you aren't around)
  • Listening to volunteer opinions and acting upon their feedback whenever possible.
  • Showing gratitude regularly by implementing effective volunteer appreciation
  • Making it easier for volunteers to do their job by providing the right tools and knowledge
  • Communicating the organization's values, mission, and goals

Engagement in the workplace drives productivity. In fact, higher engagement can increase productivity by an impressive 14%.

As a bonus, engaged volunteers can benefit from 8.54% mental health and 9.08% physical health improvement. This keeps volunteers happy, healthy, and more likely to continue succeeding with your organization.

Use the Right Tools

Volunteer coordinators have to juggle a huge variety of tasks. While multitasking is a must-have skill, it's only helpful if you have the right tools. Automating at least some parts of volunteer coordination can help you achieve your goals faster.

Common solutions you may want to implement include:

  • Registration tools
  • Scheduling tools
  • Reporting tools
  • Communication tools

Depending on your organization's needs, you can implement the necessary tools one by one or consider investing in comprehensive volunteer management software. Either way, these solutions can save time and money for the organization while streamlining coordination tactics.

Address Volunteer Retention

Volunteer retention is an integral part of effective coordination. The longer volunteers stay with the organization, the more likely they are to contribute to its success.

Try these effective retention tactics:

  • Creating a positive work environment
  • Recognizing volunteer efforts consistently
  • Being considerate when creating schedules
  • Listening to volunteer feedback and acting upon it
  • Communicating the program's effectiveness
  • Making sure that volunteers understand how valuable their contribution is

Volunteers that have a positive experience with a non-profit don't just come back for more projects, they are more likely to become donors. In fact, 85% of volunteers consider donating to non-profits they volunteer for.

Tweaking Volunteer Coordination in Your Organization

Volunteer coordination is a complex set of tactics that make volunteer programs tick. To help your volunteer coordinators succeed, it's important to give them the right tools, time, and flexibility.

Galaxy Digital's volunteer management software can enhance volunteer coordination by providing the right communication, reporting, scheduling, and engagement tools.

To learn how this solution can improve volunteer coordination in your organization, request a free demo.

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