Skip to content
Webinar: Volunteer Engagement: Reclaiming Community Roots | May 23rd @ 1pm EST | Free Registration
High Contrast

Blog Home The 5 Best Ways to Manage Volunteer Expectations & Responsibilities


The 5 Best Ways to Manage Volunteer Expectations & Responsibilities

Free volunteer orientation outline & checklist

Volunteers are an essential part of many nonprofit operations. With the right approach to volunteer management, you can improve productivity, engagement, and loyalty while encouraging regular donorship.

Defining and communicating volunteer expectations is key to smooth management. When your volunteers know exactly what you expect of them, they can work toward meeting the nonprofit's goals and hone their skills in the process.

Let's take a closer look at defining volunteer expectations and responsibilities.

The Importance of Managing Volunteer Expectations

Managing volunteer expectations, agreements, and responsibilities the right way can contribute to a successful volunteer relationship. While volunteers agree to dedicate their time to your organization for various reasons, they need guidance to meet their goals.  

By clarifying expectations and responsibilities, you can avoid confusion, keep volunteers on the right track, and streamline volunteer retention.

The more volunteers know about your expectations, the easier it is to encourage satisfaction and productivity while implementing a successful engagement strategy.

To help manage volunteer expectations, you can imagine that a volunteer position is a paid one. If they would have been applying for a job and signing a contract, these people would expect to know how well they fit the position in advance.

This knowledge wouldn't just help an employer select the right person for the role. It would help an employee understand how to succeed within the organization.

When it comes to managing and leading volunteers, the expectations work the same way as they do for employees. Be it church volunteer expectations or event volunteer responsibilities, you want to give your volunteer team maximum information and transparency.

5 Methods to Define Volunteer Roles and Expectations

Before you begin managing volunteer expectations, you need to have a clear understanding of the nonprofit needs. By listing volunteer responsibilities and creating an event calendar, you can figure out what to expect from people who agree to volunteer. Here is what to do next.

1. Create a Job Description

Designing a clear job description helps both volunteer and volunteer managers. Volunteer managers understand the scope of work better and get a blueprint that guides them through volunteer relationships.

Meanwhile, volunteers understand exactly what's expected of them, see how they contribute to the cause, and check if the responsibilities align with their goals.

A job description doesn't just streamline the volunteering process. It reduces volunteer churn.

2. Implement a Volunteer Agreement

The volunteer agreement is an excellent way to communicate expectations to volunteers. Its main goal is to make sure that volunteer managers, volunteers, and the organization are on the same page.

In most cases, a volunteer agreement serves as a reference for all parties involved. While it doesn't always carry legal value, this document outlines expectations and responsibilities and creates a comprehensive point of reference.

3. Arrange Relevant Training

While volunteers often have a wide variety of skills, they may still require training. By arranging training, you are demonstrating volunteer expectations and responsibilities clearly.

You are also keeping new volunteers in the loop, showing them how to use communication channels, and sharing the key needs and goals of the organization.

Training enables volunteers to perform the necessary tasks. It also helps them contribute more effort to the cause. This, in turn, drives retention.

4. Ensure a Supportive Environment

A supportive environment helps you communicate expectations to volunteers in the most effective way possible. When volunteers see support not just from volunteer managers but from the rest of the staff, they are more likely to feel engaged. 

Showing your support includes establishing clear lines of communication. No matter how detailed the job description is, volunteers need an opportunity to ask questions. It's up to volunteer management to ensure accessible communication channels.  

5. Manage Volunteer Time

Volunteers contribute their time to your organization at the expense of the time they spend with their friends and families. That's why it's imperative to let them know how much time you expect them to dedicate to your needs.

By creating a volunteer calendar, you are communicating expectations and giving volunteers extra power over an important asset.

Volunteer Expectations Work Both Ways

Whether you are managing church volunteer expectations and responsibilities or defining event volunteer and staff expectations, you need to remember that the process works both ways.

Your volunteers have specific expectations of your organization. While these people usually come to make a difference and support a specific cause, they expect the volunteering processes to be well-organized. It's up to volunteer managers to meet key expectations.

Some examples are:

  • Scheduling Consistency – volunteers expect clear and consistent schedules that align with their needs and skills.
  • Consistent Communication – volunteers expect to know who is responsible for volunteer management and how to touch base with these people at any time.
  • Job Description – volunteers want you to outline volunteer expectations, agreements, and responsibilities in a clear written manner. This description can include goals, hours volunteers need to contribute, and skills needed to fulfill the tasks.
  • Fulfillment – volunteers want to make sure they are contributing to an important cause. They expect to have responsibilities directly related to achieving this goal.
  • Value – volunteers expect to be valued and recognized for their effort within the organization. Excellent recognition is key to retaining volunteers and turning them into donors.

Volunteers who have relevant skills expect to apply them to contribute to the cause. Asking a doctor to sell tickets instead of being responsible for first aid activities is a skill misplacement. So is asking a high school student to help with volunteer event management. Both situations hinder productivity and reduce volunteer satisfaction.

Setting and Implementing Clear Volunteer Expectations

Defining, setting, and implementing clear volunteer expectations is key to ensuring a fruitful volunteer relationship and high productivity. With the right communication, scheduling, and management technology, your organization can enjoy highly effective collaboration with impressive retention rates.

Galaxy Digital's solutions can help your organization communicate and maintain volunteer expectations while optimizing key volunteer management tasks. To find out how these tools can help your organization succeed, please request a free demo at any convenient time. 

Trusted by thousands of amazing volunteer leaders.

Volunteer Management Solutions for Every Organization

Volunteer program tools for any organization, program size, and budget. Find your perfect solution today.


Find the Right SoftwareGet a Free Demo