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A Closer Look at Defining Volunteer Coordination

The key to making the most out of volunteer partnerships is organization, management, and coordination. While volunteers may be highly skilled and eager to get the job done, the lack of high-quality coordination can put this motivation to waste.

Volunteer coordination is an important part of volunteer management that focuses on scheduling, communication, recruitment, and documentation. While in some organizations, a volunteer coordinator is also a volunteer manager, having a separate specialist for this job can improve the volunteer program.

Let's take a closer look at the definition of volunteer coordination.

What Is Volunteer Coordination?

Volunteer coordination is the process of organizing many aspects of volunteering. It can include recruitment, communication, scheduling, and supervision.

The goals of volunteer coordination are to ensure:

  • The organization has enough volunteers for the project
  • All volunteers receive appropriate training
  • All volunteers are assigned to relevant departments
  • Volunteers execute their responsibilities timely and effectively
  • Volunteers follow an effective schedule
  • Volunteers who want to get involved have an opportunity to do so

A smart approach to volunteer coordination can maximize productivity and improve volunteer retention

What Is a Volunteer Coordinator?

Volunteer coordinators are responsible for keeping volunteer managers and leaders informed about volunteer needs and their place in the program. They assign volunteers based on their talent, education, availability, and areas of interest. If the right talent is lacking, coordinators report the problem to volunteer managers.

Many organizations don't distinguish between volunteer coordination, volunteer management, and volunteer supervision. When pressed for assets, some nonprofits hire one person to execute all the tasks related to volunteers and their management.

That's why the definition of volunteer coordination often includes supervision and management tasks.

Difference Between Volunteer Coordinator, Manager, and Supervisor

Volunteer coordinators, managers, and supervisors have many common responsibilities. However, these are different roles. 

Volunteer Managers vs Volunteer Coordinators 

Volunteer management and coordination go hand in hand. While in many nonprofits, a volunteer manager is responsible for coordination tasks, it's not always the case.

A volunteer manager:

  • Maintains and grows volunteer database by arranging outreach activities
  • Works closely with the entire volunteer team, including coordinators and supervisors
  • Arranges volunteer recruitment process (reviewing candidates, checking references, arranging interviews)
  • Manages the orientation process
  • Monitors volunteer experience with the program
  • Engages with volunteers regularly and gathers feedback
  • Plans training activities

Meanwhile, a volunteer coordinator has a different list of responsibilities. They can assist the management with training, recruitment, and orientation, but also:

  • Arrange and maintain volunteer schedules
  • Ensure a successful training process
  • Coordinate appreciation event planning
  • Manage the volunteer database
  • Ensure transparent communication with volunteers
  • Assign and change responsibilities when applicable

A volunteer coordinator collects information about volunteers while they are working. This data can help this expert make sure that each volunteer is in the right place. Coordinators can rotate and switch volunteers between departments to ensure better program efficiency.

Volunteer Coordinators vs Volunteer Supervisors

While in some companies, a volunteer coordinator and a volunteer supervisor are the same people, a larger organization may consider hiring two specialists for these jobs.

A volunteer supervisor is a person responsible for overseeing the volunteers onsite. Their goal is to make sure that the volunteer work is proceeding smoothly. They identify potential volunteer problems that may include burnout or wrong assignments. 

Similar to volunteer coordinators, volunteer supervisors report to volunteer managers. Managers can process the information and pass it to coordinators who come up with a solution to identified problems.

Volunteer coordination, supervision, and management are all a part of leading volunteers and ensuring program efficiency.

What To Look for in a Volunteer Coordinator

A volunteer coordinator is a specialist with a wide range of skills. Some of the things to look for include:

  • Experience as a volunteer
  • Strong communication skills
  • Excellent organizational skills
  • Good team-building skills
  • Motivational attitude
  • A welcoming approach
  • Ability to build meaningful relationships
  • Problem-solving skills

During an interview with a volunteer coordinator, you can ask them about interpersonal skills, experience, mission, and goals. Motivated, excited, and experienced coordinators are often a good fit.

It's up to you to decide whether a volunteer coordinator should have a college degree. A person with the right skills and experience could be a better fit than someone who earned a degree in business management but never volunteered.   

Do You Need a Volunteer Coordinator?

Around 64 million Americans volunteer every year. One out of three of them quit during their first year with the organization. To streamline volunteer retention, it's important to improve their experience.

The main reasons why volunteers quit are burnout, lack of training, and mismatched opportunities. All of the above can be avoided by improving volunteer coordination.

A volunteer coordinator can make sure all volunteers receive adequate training and fill positions where there are needed most. These specialists can match the volunteer's skills, time constraints, and desires to the available position. This prevents burnout and boosts volunteer satisfaction.

Today, 85% of volunteers are willing to donate to organizations they volunteer for. By improving the volunteer experience with your organization, you are also encouraging these people to become donors. Accordingly, the time and money you invest in acquiring volunteer experts is a significant investment in the success of your organization.

Since volunteer management is a set of complex tasks, putting them all on one person could be counterproductive. That's why many non-profits can benefit from hiring volunteer coordinators.

Understanding Volunteer Coordination

Volunteer coordination is an integral part of volunteer management. Its goal is to ensure the smooth functioning of the organization while maintaining a healthy environment. Matching volunteers to the right roles and departments can help prevent burnout while maximizing volunteer impact.

In some companies, the volunteer coordinator definition blurs with the definition of volunteer manager. In reality, these are two different roles. If you have time, resources, and opportunities to hire a volunteer coordinator, you can benefit from better volunteer management.

Galaxy Digital's volunteer management software can help your volunteer coordinators, supervisors, and managers achieve their goals for your organization and turn more volunteers into donors. To find out how this platform can work for you, please request a free demo today.

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