Human Resources & Volunteers Management – Basic level
Course Code: HR1
Human Resources & Volunteers Management – Basic level
This course enables volunteering agents to establish the right setting for beginning volunteering activities and also to create a healthy environment for working with volunteers.
Duration: 45 m.
Author/Source: Pro Vobis
Tags: human resources, volunteers management, courses, training, volunteering
Starting: 21/11/2012 Ending: 01/01/2014
Module 1: Introduction to volunteering
DU 1.1 Role of volunteering: the fabric of a tighter society
What is volunteering – basic concepts and myths
Volunteering as a personal, organisational and community value
Definition: The definitions of volunteering can vary, but it is generally considered an activity carried out of free will, whereby a person offers their time, talent, skills for the benefit of others, without having a financial gain. There are 3 or 4 main features that make volunteering distinct from other forms of involvement:
- Volunteering is an activity freely chosen by each individual. People must have the choice to get involved or not to get involved, and any form of coercion is incompatible with the spirit of volunteering.
- It is an activity directed towards the benefit of the community or the common good or the environment, as opposed to the benefit of a single individual.
- No remuneration is provided or expected for the activity (except the reimbursement of direct expenses generated by performing the activity, like transportation and materials).
- (optional) It is an organized activity, under the umbrella of an organization or another formal or informal group.
Each person can serve the society through one´s own interests, personal skills or learning, which in return can produce a feeling of self-worth and respect, instead of money. Volunteering is also valued for indirect or direct benefits such as skills development, social benefits, enhancing employability and a variety of other specific reasons that might be of interest for people joining volunteer projects.
Other principles fundamental to volunteering that are important to embed in volunteering programs and to communicate to your staff and your future volunteers (Source: The Dacorum Compact – Volunteering Code of Good Practice [October 2003] www.dacorum.gov.uk) include the following:
Volunteering should be open to all, no matter what their background, age, race, sexual orientation, faith, etc. is. Inclusiveness can build bridges, helping a diversity of people to feel connected. Social exclusion can be overcome by skills, experiences, confidence and contacts gained while helping others. Policy-makers and practitioners in all sectors can learn from working with volunteers from different ethnic communities, age groups and other demographic groups , who may bring considerable relevant experience from their cultural and other backgrounds. Equal opportunities principles are basic to supporting diversity.
Volunteers offer their contribution unwaged, but should benefit in other ways in return for their contribution to wider social objectives. Giving voluntary time and skills must be recognized as establishing a reciprocal relationship in which the volunteer also receives. Benefits that volunteers expect to gain include a sense of worthwhile, skills, experience and contacts, sociability and fun, and inclusion in the life of the organization.
Explicit recognition of the value of what volunteers contribute to the organization, to the community, to the social economy and to wider social objectives, is fundamental to a fair relationship between volunteers, organizations and government policy and practice.
It is recommended for the person who involves teams of volunteers in the organization’s activities to also know that:
- Volunteering is an unpaid activity, but it can involve people with various backgrounds and at various professional levels. It doesn’t matter if a volunteer is sticking up posters or if he/she does fundraising activities; both can be equally valuable and are playing a part in helping others.
- How often and for how long a person volunteers can vary: some people can volunteer every day, while others only volunteer once a year or perhaps once in a lifetime. Nevertheless, it still is considered volunteering.
- Everybody can be a volunteer, no matter which category of people he/she belongs to. Even if people have problems, if people are elderly or they come from a poor or rural area, if they are children, they can still be involved as volunteers; the volunteering opportunity has to be suitable though. While volunteering should be open for all, some volunteering roles, such as a volunteer paramedic, require specialist training.
- A very important aspect is that the work of volunteers should not be used as a replacement for the work of employees: a volunteer should bring added-value, and not take the place of an employee to save costs. It is bad practice to ask volunteers to do the same work as paid staff. Even in organizations where all the staff works on a volunteering basis, differences in workload should be considered between work done by core staff and volunteers, because not all volunteers have the same availability or desire to get involved.
Volunteering is of great value to all actors involved: volunteers learn, share, connect or stay active; organisations gain varied human resources and enhance their image; beneficiaries –are the recipients of volunteering actions; local communities are enriched by volunteering actions, as is the whole of society .
From the point of view of volunteers, volunteering can have many possible benefits:
- Gaining work experience and learning how to handle responsibilities
- Learning new information
- Developing abilities and competencies
- Doing something good for the community
- Sharing your experience and feeling useful
- Making friends and networking
- Interacting with other social groups of people and beneficiaries, developing new perspectives
- Starting a career or testing a new career
- Being part of a dynamic team and/or a respected organisation
- Being part of a movement
- Having fun
Volunteering has a remarkable educational value. It is learning by doing! The learning generated by getting involved in volunteering activities is of great importance to all types of peope: young people with little or no work experience who want to develop their career; adults who want to use their skills in different contexts; seniors who want to keep active; and disadvantaged people who want to develop skills and a sense of belonging. Unlike formal learning, volunteering has the advantage of flexibility: the volunteer can choose what activities to get involved in and how much to get involved. However, unlike other learning activities, the main focus of volunteering has to remain the public good, not the personal good.
Apart from learning new skills, the volunteer also gains valuable social competences: he or she becomes more tolerant, confident, active (as a citizen), and socially responsible. Volunteering makes people more aware of social problems and their solutions, as well as other social groups.
From an organisational point of view, volunteers can be an important resource. Volunteers always bring added value to a program or an organisation by contributing skills and attitudes. Volunteering can also be one of the important ways in which an organisation spreads its image in the community. The benefits of involving volunteers can be manifold:
- The number of beneficiaries served by the organisation is raised
- The number, quality or the reach of services offered is increased
- Effectiveness of work is increased, and reaching the goals of the current programs becomes easier
- Volunteers can become ambassadors of the organisation in the community
- Volunteers can attract new members, other volunteers or even sponsors
- Volunteers can bring much needed skills into the organisation
- Volunteers can become future employees
Organisations can make a statement about the value they put on volunteering by incorporating it in to their internal policies, their annual report, and their working directions. This is also an important step in the preparation that an organisation should do before involving volunteers.
From a community point of view, volunteering brings visible benefits to beneficiaries and to volunteers: it enhances social dialog and cohesion, as well as people´s confidence. Volunteering has become a valuable aspect for policies at all levels – local, national, European and international, and numerous public papers emphasize the value of volunteering as a creator of social capital. Moreover, we cannot neglect the economic value of volunteering. In some European countries, the economic contribution of volunteering has been quantified and estimated to be up to 5% of the gross internal product. With all its immaterial and material aspects, volunteering can be seen as an important agent in the development of societies.
DU 1.2 Volunteering: a meaningful experience for everyone
How to choose a suitable volunteering activity
Basic rights and responsibilities as a volunteer
As a volunteer or volunteer coordinator, you might run into people who want to volunteer, but do not know what kind of activity would be suitable for them. You need to keep in mind that people willing to be volunteers might need guidance from the very beginning. Here are some suggestions:
- Help your volunteer to know himself/ herself better. What are some of his or her interests and passions? What are the values that guide him or her as a person? What their favorite activities or their biggest success so far?
- What skills, attitudes, knowledge, and time can he or she offer? This is always a good starting point in your relationship. Everyone has something that they are good at or something that they can offer, they just need help in identifying that something. One person can be good at public speaking, while another can be good at gardening. One person can be very structured, while the other can be very creative. One person can be a leader, while the other can be a great team player.
- What does he or she want to achieve by becoming involved in volunteering activities? Does this person want to learn or share things? Or perhaps just keep active? Does he or she want to become part of a group or are they motivated by other things?
- What kind of people or things would he or she like to work with? Some people like to work with children, the elderly or disabled people, while others prefer technology-related work or physical work.
- What does he/she expect from the organization or from the volunteering program? Can these expectations be met or is there, perhaps, a more suitable organization out there?
- Help your volunteer to better know your organization and the opportunities that it offers, according to his or her needs.
The rights and responsibilities of volunteers need to be known by volunteer coordinators, by colleagues and of course by the volunteers. This clarifies roles and levels of expectation and helps create a basis for better understanding the concept of volunteering. Both volunteers and the organizations they work with have rights and responsibilities. Volunteers are engaged in performing specific tasks in a specific way, while the organization agrees to provide the volunteers with a worthwhile and rewarding experience.
Volunteers have the right to:
- A place to volunteer and suitable tools for their role
- Know the purpose and "ground rules" of the organization
- Appropriate orientation and pre-training for their role
- Ongoing support and opportunities for further training
- Be reimbursed of agreed expenses
- Be asked for their permission before any reference and Criminal Bureau checks are conducted
- Be kept informed of organizational changes and the reasons for the changes
- Be heard and make suggestions
- Be recognized for their contribution as volunteers
- Personal accident insurance (in place of workers compensation insurance).
Volunteers have the following responsibilities: (extracted from “Volunteers’ rights and responsibilities Charta”, developed by the National Volunteer Center, Paris, France – translated and adapted by Pro Vobis volunteers)
- Be certain - analyze your feelings and make sure you want to help other people. Do not offer your skills until you are convinced of the value of the activities you will be engaging in.
- Accept supervision - You will be more useful and you will accomplish your tasks in a more efficient manner if you speak to somebody about your activity and also, if you accept guidance.
- Be trustworthy - Do what you promised you will do; do not promise to accomplish tasks you are unsure you can see through to completion.
- Be loyal - Give suggestions but also accept the rules; do not criticize what you don’t understand (there may well be a very good reason why things are like that).
- Say what you think - Ask about what you don’t understand; don’t keep any questions or frustrations to yourself – these will only drive you away from the organization or create problems in the organization.
- Be willing to learn something new – Training can be essential; it allows you to do your job under the best circumstances possible.
- Learn everything you can - Get to know everything you can about the organization and your work.
- Be a good team player - Find your place in the team; work is much more pleasant and satisfying when you are not alone.
Some rights and responsibilities of the organization:
- Follow any legal regulations regarding volunteering in their country.
- Expect volunteers to adhere to their role descriptions and the organization’s code of practice.
- Provide training, if needed.
- Observe safety rules.
- Release volunteers under certain circumstances.
Module 2: A different kind of HR
D.U. 2.1 HR applied to VM: The volunteer coordinator
Defining particularities of HR in managing volunteers
Abilities, attitudes and tasks in managing volunteers
Human resource management refers to the management of the workforce of an organisation. It generally involves the following functions: aligning the workforce with the mission; managing the processes the workforce are involved in; responding to needs of the workforce; and managing change in the workforce.
Recruiting and involving volunteers for the organisation is a step that needs to be planned carefully, just like any HR activity. Because volunteers are a particular category within the organisation (with very different involvement, motivation and needs than the staff) their management needs special consideration and is usually carried out by a dedicated person – the volunteer coordinator or volunteer manager.
The role of the volunteer coordinator is to match the suitable volunteer to the right position, according to the needs of the organization, but also taking into account the needs and abilities of the volunteer. Therefore, his or her role is dual: to make sure that the needs and the motivations of the volunteer who chose to engage with a particular organization are met; but also to make sure the needs of the organization (and also of the employees directly working with volunteers) are met by means of engaging volunteers.
When there is nobody specifically assigned to coordinating volunteers, they will inevitably end up being forgotten or ignored by the employees. Volunteers need a constant validation of the motivation that determined them to get involved as volunteers in the first place. It is for this reason that, in an unfriendly environment and with the lack of support, the volunteers will eventually get bored and not find their own place within the organization, or they will feel neglected and unappreciated and leave the organization.
When comparing volunteers and employees in the same organization, often there are more or less similar requirements: having the right competencies, taking on responsibilities and tasks, working in teams, respecting schedules and deadlines, respecting rules, and so on. However, working with volunteers is different than coordinating employees because we are dealing with people who, unlike employees of an organization:
- are not paid for the work they do and therefore their main motivation for engaging in some activities is different than the financial one,
- have other activities, even a job, which makes the time they can allocate to a certain volunteer activity be much more limited and precious than that of an employee,
- do certain activities out of pure passion, which is why they need to see a high level of interest and commitment from the person coordinating them.
Because the coordination of volunteers is different to that of paid staff, a dedicated volunteer coordinator within an organisation is often needed.
Volunteers come into your organizations because they believe in the change you want to bring into the world, in your values and your mission, and in the way you as an organization communicate these important aspects to the public. And you, as a person working with volunteers, must pay attention to the relationship you establish from the very beginning with people who join your organization as volunteers. The existence of a volunteer coordinator (preferably a full time one) with the right skills is therefore of utmost importance to the success of the volunteer program. Practical experience has demonstrated that the volunteer coordinator can be the key factor that can transform an organization where volunteer involvement is superficial into an organization where volunteer involvement has a notable positive impact on the efficiency and mission of the organization.
Because of his role, the volunteer coordinator needs to possess certain qualities, specific to the coordination of volunteers. Below are some of the necessary abilities of working with volunteers (adapted from Ellis, 1996):
- Knowledge about volunteering and the ability to express a positive and coherent point of view on volunteering;
- A wide view when it comes to the possibilities of volunteer involvement and also about what the organization can get from this collaboration;
- A good understating a volunteer´s psychology and attention given to the individual motivations of each volunteer;
- A good understanding of the growth of volunteering and the expansion of the community resources (involvement of youth, adults, older persons, different minorities and persons with disabilities)
- Good managerial abilities;
- Abilities regarding interpersonal relations;
- Enthusiasm and energy;
- The ability to speak freely and deliver public presentation in an easy way;
- Familiarity with the potential resources within the community;
- Ability to analyze tasks and responsibilities in order to divide twork into tasks that are small enough to be distributed to volunteers;
- Ability to manage logistical details (like adjusting irregular work hours of the volunteers, etc.)
- Openness to adapt ideas from various contexts to the special needs of the organization.
A well-planned process of managing volunteers needs a capable coordinator who can easily find people willing to involve and that are suitable to his/ her organization. So your task as a volunteer coordinator is to offer people the possibility to contribute to achieving your mission. The coordinator can also be a mentor and a support for his/her volunteers and the interface between employees of your organization and the one responsible for the efficiency of volunteering programs.
Below, you will find some of the more detailed tasks of a volunteer coordinator, deriving from the 9 steps of volunteer management.
A. Planning and Program Management
1. Analysis the assistance needs of the organization and its beneficiaries
2. Creates a vision on the involvement of volunteers in the organization’s activities
3. Shapes program goals and objectives
4. Establishes volunteer tasks
5. Establishes policies and procedures
6. Manages resources
7. Supports volunteers
8. Initiates new projects involving volunteers
9. Develops professional abilities
B. Recruitment and Public Relations
1. Analyzes recruitment needs
2. Plans recruitment strategies
3. Creates the necessary recruitment materials
4. Manages and directs efforts during the recruitment process
C. Interviewing and Selection
1. Prepares and conducts interviews
3. Places volunteers
4. Facilitates the involvement of volunteer groups
D. Orientation and Training
1. Prepares an orientation program for all volunteers, irrespective of their activity type
2. Offers support to other employees for working with volunteers
3. Creates an initial training plan
4. Prepares manuals, brochures and other informative materials
1. Supervises directly
2. Supervises indirectly
4. Evaluates individual volunteer performances
F. Motivation and Merit Recognition
1. Ensures constant motivation and appreciation of volunteers
2. Coordinates merit recognition activities
3. Lobbies for the importance of motivation
4. Seeks new motivation techniques
G. Program Evaluation
1. Coordinates periodic program evaluations
2. Maintains evidence and reports
3. Evaluates the progress of each program, according to its components
4. Suggests improvements, based on evaluation results
H. Other responsibilities
1. Takes part in the organization´s fundraising activities, directly coordinating volunteers’ activities
2. Asks for donations for the organization’s services
3. Represents the organization within the community
4. Promotes volunteerism as a way for professional and personal achievement and as a necessary resource for community development.
While this model is an ideal one, you can think which elements you could apply in your organization, depending on the abilities, resources and support that you have available. Nevertheless, some of the roles described above are indispensable.
D.U. 2.2 Enabling a volunteer-friendly environment
Enabling a volunteer-friendly environment
IIn order to be productive and feel valued, volunteers should be surrounded by an enabling environment in the organization they work in. This refers to aspects that need to be prepared before involving volunteers as well as aspects that need to be implemented in an ongoing manner. It also refers to having a transparent and friendly organizational culture.
Some of the aspects that make a supportive and volunteer-friendly environment are:
- the existence of policies regarding volunteering within the organization, and the open declaration of volunteering as a value of the organization through internal and external communication
- the existence of a trained person who manages and supports the work of volunteers in an professional manner – the volunteer coordinator
- a professional volunteer management system, including tools and documents needed for monitoring and supervision
- having staff that are open and prepared to collaborate with volunteers, making them feel part of the team, treating them with respect
- ensuring that safety and risk prevention measures are in place for volunteers
- ensuring appropriate workspace and logistics to enable the volunteer to do his or her tasks
- ensuring timely reimbursements for sundry expenses incurred by volunteers
- ensuring that the organization has a transparent flow of information and an open, flexible atmosphere
- valuing volunteer-feedback and ideas, keeping an optimal level of motivation and recognizing special merits, etc.
All the above, together, make a volunteer feel cared for and appreciated, and will raise his satisfaction and, consequently, his efficiency in the organization. It will also attract and retain new volunteers who will have a positive and pleasant experience with the organization. Organizational culture is an important aspect that can make volunteers feel drawn closer to the organization, or, on the contrary, feel uncomfortable. The person in charge with human resources or specifically with volunteers should pay attention to the type of culture that is developed within the organization, and the type of people that tend to join it (staff and volunteers).
While organizational culture has been widely discussed within organizational theory and management, it has received far less attention within nongovernmental sector research and wider development studies (Lewis 2002). A simple definition of organizational culture often refers to “the way we do things around here,” “the way we think about things round here,” or “the commonly held values and beliefs held within an organization”. At the other, more complex end of the definition spectrum, Edgar Schein (1985) focuses on the construction and negotiation of values and meanings as expressed through organizational artifacts, motivations, and behaviors. One step of successful organizational development is assessing the current culture of the organization. For assessing an organization´s culture, the main indicators are:
- Shared values and norms
- Dominant style of leadership
- To what degree rules and procedures are applied
- What is identified as success
- Symbols and rituals
- How people associate with the organisation
Let us see a chart of organizational culture models. Can you recognize yours?
|Innovation culture |
- Dynamic, creative environment
- Leaders innovate and take risks
- Commitment to experiment and innovate
- Initiative, freedom and entrepreneurship
- Success: new projects and services
- Friendly, social environment
- Leaders stimulate and support
- Strong commitment to loyalty and tradition
- Cooperation and participation
- Success: when people are taken care of and customers are satisfied
- Structured environment with rules
- Leaders coordinate and are efficient
- Commitment to a smooth organization
- Policy, security, predictability
- Success: a reliable service, smooth and efficient planning
- Environment aimed at results
- Leaders are demanding and businesslike
- Commitment to emphasizing achievements
- Target oriented, to excel, name recognition and growth
- Success: when the organization is important in comparison with other organizations
Although there can be a dominant culture, one can often recognize a mix of elements from other organizational cultures as well. Most NGOs have a family culture with a friendly and open environment focused on cooperation rather than competition where success is oriented towards beneficiaries and the community. This openness and flexibility enables volunteers to find their place and fit in to the organization; an organizational structure that is highly rigid and bureaucratic is less likely to be open to adjust to the involvement of volunteers and will be also less attractive for volunteers. What is attractive and what not also depends, of course, on the personality of the volunteer, but, generally speaking, a more flexible organization – without affecting the professionalism of handling volunteers – is more likely to optimally absorb volunteers into its services or structure.
Another aspect of culture that is very relevant to working with volunteers is the inclusiveness and diversity of an organization. Considering the fact that volunteers can and should come from a diversity of backgrounds, it is important that the organization as a whole (through its policies and communication) and its staff respect diversity in all its forms- gender, age, disabilities, race, religion, and class.
Now that you probably established what type of culture your organization has, how do you think you can make the internal environment more friendly and supportive for existing and new volunteers?
- McCurley, S. şi Sue Vineyard . 1986. 101 Ideas for Volunteer Program. Heritage Arts Publishing
2. McCurley, Steve 1996. Building Understanding and Collaboration: Creating Synergistic Relationships Between Personal and Volunteers. The Points of Light Foundation
- www.voluntariat.ro - http://www.voluntariat.ro/manageri_de_voluntari.htm
4. www.voluntareuropean.ro - http://www.voluntareuropean.ro/beneficii.php, http://www.voluntareuropean.ro/mituri.php