According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS), there are more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations registered in the U.S. Most of those nonprofits are small, locally-run organizations striving to fill a local community need, and rely heavily on surrounding community members for volunteers and resources to do so.
At smaller nonprofits, having a strong volunteer base is integral to achieving the organization’s mission and yearly goals. Without a volunteer force, many nonprofits would not be able to complete daily functions or maintain the resources needed to offer direct services to the community.
Although community support is important, volunteer help is sometimes associated with negative aspects like: high turnover rates, less reliability than paid staff, and unwanted influence on organizational mission.
Instead of losing volunteers to another organization that better utilizes their skills and desire to to improve the community, volunteer management experts recommend tailoring volunteer positions to several intrinsic motivations. According to experts, volunteers have several intrinsic needs that, once filled, will result in happier, more productive, long-term volunteers. Nonprofits facing volunteer-related challenges should realign their volunteer positions in a way that takes full advantage of a volunteer’s skills, time and dedication to an organization while staying true to its mission.
5 Aspects to Consider When Crafting Volunteer Positions
- Ownership or responsibility of a certain project: Having a sense of personal responsibility for something instills pride in a volunteer and creates an increased connection between that project and a volunteer’s commitment level.
- Decision-making power and authority to think independently: Allowing volunteers to help in the planning and decision making process gives an increases sense of responsibility and shows that management values a volunteer’s opinions.
- Responsibility in project’s result/outcome: By describing to volunteers the desired result of a program in terms of change instead of individual tasks, volunteers focus on the intended improvement and the process needed to achieve that result.
- Continual evaluation/assessment of progress: Evaluating volunteers conveys a sense of accomplishment to volunteers, and gives them a measurement by which to improve.
- Clear expectation of duties: When people know exactly what is expected of them and what they are expected to accomplish, they are more likely to actually accomplish it.
By describing specific volunteer positions or duties using each of these needs, nonprofits will be in a better position to satisfy volunteers needs and increase organizational success. Since volunteers often help determine a nonprofit’s legitimacy within the community, showing a dedicated effort to one’s volunteers will promote the organization as a legitimate frontrunner in the community.
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