Volunteer Coordination: Overcoming the Time Trap
Volunteer coordination is a tough job that involves strategy, patience, interpersonal skills and the ability to work under pressure. Effective volunteer coordination helps an organization run and operate smoothly.
Many first-time volunteer coordinators find their time stretched thin between developing policies and procedures, generating role descriptions, recruiting volunteer prospects, focusing on retention and other everyday tasks.
The ability to successfully manage time and push a volunteer program towards success can be a daunting task for even the most seasoned coordinator.
Successful volunteer coordination takes a special set of skills, tools and strategic direction.
Below you will find the top competencies that a coordinator should possess, as well as four ways to keep a coordinator on track.
Key Competencies for Volunteer Coordinators
- Communication skills and proficiency
- Organization and time-management
- Presentation skills
- Attention to details
- Ability to use technology to solve problems
Tips for Overcoming the Volunteer Coordination Time-Trap
Did you know, according to research, 20 percent of the average workday is spent on “crucial” and “important” tasks? The other 80 percent is spent on things that have “little” to “no value.” Successful volunteer coordination demands the ability to manage and complete multiple “highly important” tasks in a very limited amount of time. If your nonprofit wants to enable volunteer coordinators to use their time strategically there are several best practices your organization will want to follow.
1. Start With Goals and Communication
First, volunteer coordinators should have a list of strategic goals. These goals will provide them with direction and help them to prioritize their time effectively. Without outlining goals for coordination efforts, it is impossible to know whether your organization’s volunteer program is on track.
Remember, the creation of program goals should also involve the volunteer coordinator. Alignment can make or break a strategy. According to research, 30 percent of professionals believe that failure to coordinate across units is the greatest challenge when executing a strategy.
Allow your coordinator to share input and provide feedback based on their experience in the field. Creating goals and engaging in active communication will demonstrate to volunteer coordinators that the organization values their time and effort.
Here is an additional resource on setting SMART goals for your nonprofit.
2. Promote Physical and Mental Health
Promoting a healthy lifestyle to your volunteer coordinators and the rest of the nonprofit team can improve focus and rejuvenate passion. Focus can have a dramatic effect on your team’s ability to juggle multiple projects successfully.
According to Society for Human Resource Management, 60 percent of organizations offer wellness programs to create a healthy environment for staff. Another study, by Career Builder, found that the top five stress symptoms causing missed work are fatigue, sleeplessness, aches and pains, high anxiety and weight gain.
Nonprofits that invest in the health of their staff yield the reward of motivated employees that positively impact coordinated programs and goals.
3. Provide Coordinators with a Strong Support Network
Creating a strong support network for volunteer coordinators is another way to break down barriers affecting goal attainment and time. It is helpful for volunteer coordinators to have a mentor or manager they can reach out to directly if an issue is to arise.
Active support can help keep volunteer coordination on track, provide feedback about both efficiencies and inefficiencies of operations, and re-communicate vision and mission.
A recent study actually found that about 80 percent of learning takes place during interactions between mentors and mentees and is a key component of knowledge. Is your nonprofit providing volunteer coordinators with access to people?
4. Implement Tools to Streamline Volunteer Coordination
Volunteer management tools can help volunteer coordinators manage their time and better focus efforts. Software, like VolunteerHub, can streamline coordination by providing staff with access to recruitment, registration, communication, and scheduling features. Data can easily be accessed anytime and from anywhere via a secure volunteer database.
Volunteer management software can improve the process for both your volunteer coordinators and the volunteers that support your organization. Many organizations have improved their coordination efforts by deploying a volunteer management solution including Ronald McDonald House Charities, Habitat for Humanity, Metropolitan Ministries and more.
See the volunteer management case studies here to prove it.
The first step of successful volunteer coordination is finding the right person (or people) to fill the coordinator role for your nonprofit. Once the position is filled provide coordinators with support, resources, tools, health initiatives and goals to supplement their efforts.
Better coordination equals a better experience for volunteers and supporters.
Eric Burger is the marketing communications manager for VolunteerHub, an organization that provides volunteer management solutions for nonprofits across the globe. Eric has worked in the B2B software industry for the past two years and has over five years of experience in digital marketing.