Human Resources and Volunteers Management - Advanced
Course Code: HR3
Human Resources and Volunteers Management - Advanced
This course follows the specific steps in volunteers management, including aspects of community needs assessment and policies on involving 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: Sound foundations
DU 1.1 A needs-based approach to volunteer-involvement
Community needs analysis
Strategic planning – how to plan for involving volunteers in a meaningful way
Let’s first define what a community needs assessment is. One simple definition could be that a community needs assessment is a way of gathering information about a community’s opinions, needs, challenges, and assets in order to determine which project(s) will meet the real needs of the community.
A community needs assessment must be conducted by your organization by appointing an assessment group. This group should be comprised of employees or volunteers who are familiar with the community and will be able to dedicate the time and resources necessary to assess the community’s needs. In conducting the assessment, the group will approach community leaders and members at large. Some community needs assessment tools include the following:
- Interviews – Collect information from community members who are in a position to know community needs. These people might be community leaders, professionals, or other individuals who have affiliations with particular organizations, public institutions, and companies.
- Public forum – Bring a wide range of community members together at public meetings to gather information via group discussions.
- Focus group – Obtain opinions and ideas from a small, targeted group of community members.
- Survey – Use a formal survey or questionnaire to collect information from a wide range of community members.
- Secondary data analysis – Review and analyze data that has already been collected regarding community issues and needs.
Steps in conducting a community needs assessment
- Form a community needs assessment group
- Promote and inform the community about the assessment, its goals and methods
- Select a community needs assessment tool(s)
- Develop a plan for the assessment (who, what, when, where, how)
- Implement the assessment using the selected tool(s)
- Analyze the results
- Prepare report detailing the results
- Use report to determine stakeholders and volunteers to get involved
The type of information that should be gathered depends on the individual community and its specific needs. However, the following information should appear in all community needs assessments:
- Description of the community and applicable statistics
- Needs identified by community leaders and members
- Current action being taken to meet community needs (including volunteering actions if there are any)
- Local resources available to help meet community needs
- Opportunities for projects
- Challenges to projects
- Involvement of the community in the project
- Long-term sustainability of the project by the community
Once you have gathered the information you should analyze the findings and write up a report which should be shared with your colleagues and offer stakeholders board, project partners, and community members that were involved in providing information for the assessment.
Developing a strategic plan is really a way to focus your efforts and figure out why and how you´re going to involve volunteers. It also involves thinking about the long-term sustainability of your organization. By planning around these areas, you can achieve the following advantages:
- Taking advantage of resources and emerging opportunities for your organizations and for your target groups
- A more efficient use of time, energy and resources
Strategies should always be formed in advance of taking action. Without a clear idea of the how, your efforts in having the best team of volunteers may waste time and effort and fail to take advantage of emerging opportunities. Strategies should also be updated periodically to meet the needs of a changing social environment, including new opportunities or the needs of the volunteers.
DU 1.2 Prepare your organization for volunteer involvement
Values, policies and tools
Make people aware that volunteering is a vital contribution to the organization’s aims. At the same time make sure that all people understand that volunteering does not replace or devalue the role of paid staff in your organization.
A policy provides an overview of the activities carried out by volunteers currently and provides a basis for the expansion, if required, for the role of volunteers alongside paid staff. The policy document along with procedures and guidance provide a framework for the involvement of volunteers.
Take in account that volunteers can/are involved at different levels of your organizations and vary in frequency and lenght of involvement. By knowing this try to list the roles undertaken by volunteers.
A policy document will clarify all aspects of volunteers’ involvement and is guided by the following principles of good practice:
- the tasks to be performed by volunteers will be clearly defined, so that everyone is sure of their respective roles and responsibilities
- the organisation will comply with the Data Protection Act in the use of data held on all volunteers
- volunteering opportunities will complement, NOT replace the work of paid staff
- volunteers will be provided with regular opportunities to share ideas/concerns
- all existing and future policies will be checked as to how they affect volunteers
In the beginning of the volunteering policy paper you must specify its purpose
- highlight and acknowledge the value of the contribution made by volunteers;
- reflect the purpose, values, standards and strategies of the organization in its approach to involving volunteers;
- recognize the respective roles, rights and responsibilities of volunteers;
- confirm the organization’s commitment to involving volunteers in its work;
- establish clear principles for the involvement of volunteers;
- ensure the ongoing quality of both the volunteering opportunities on offer and the work carried out by our volunteers;
A volunteering policy paper will have different sections referring to:
- Recruitment and Selection (documents and procedures, profile of the volunteer, periods of recruitment, criteria of selection)
- Support and Supervision (learning and development opportunities, support and supervision meetings)
- Problem Solving (conflict of interest, conflict situations, procedures, exit procedures)
- Evaluation and monitor (documents used and timeframes to follow, types of procedures)
It is recommended to include all volunteer management steps in the policy and to re-adjust it from time to time to keep in line with current good practice.
Module 2: Volunteer management
DU 2.1 Volunteer management 1: the first steps
Overview of 9 steps of VM
Recruitment & Selection
Volunteers are the foundation of many small to medium non-profit organizations. Volunteers help these organizations achieve their mission and objectives. However, a key challenge for any organization is to select volunteers who are competent and contribute to the delivery of service in a safe environment and to maintain the best volunteers for your organization. Volunteers Management generally involves 9 steps. It begins long before anyone is interviewed for a position and ends when the volunteer leaves the organization. The 9 steps include:
1. Preparation of the organization to involve volunteers
6. Supervising and Monitoring
Prepare your organization
Inform your staff and your board about involving volunteers in the organization projects.
Create job descriptions for committee members, with the purpose of the committee, scope of work and responsibilities of committee chairs and members. Many nonprofits solicit volunteers, and then don’t give them clear directions on how to operate their committees.
Groom future board and committee members in advance of their service by recruiting potential officers and chairs to serve on committees. Recruit from your membership base, industry vendors and suppliers, academia or well-known celebrities or industry leaders.
Think of documents needed in your organization in order to work with volunteers:
- Role descriptions – YES…a role description is not only for paid staff
- volunteering policies within your organization
Explain how your staff should engage with volunteers, outlining that volunteers should be considered an added value to the work of the organization,
Using your organization’s chart and position descriptions to identify positions for your volunteers that will not replace the work of your staff.
A preliminary step in the development of volunteering programs and volunteering policies consist of identifying the volunteer position and the specific activities needed
Each position should set out specific conditions and responsibilities of staff and volunteers, including the type of participant/ category of beneficiaries with whom the volunteer occupying the position will be working.
It is imperative to describe positions within your organization in relation to the risks inherent to vulnerable persons or to the environment. Position descriptions do not have to be lengthy but they must set guidelines and behavioral standards. They clarify the roles and responsibilities of the organization´s staff and volunteers.
The following pieces of information can be included in a position description:
- Participant group (children, seniors, etc.)
- Activities and tasks
- Outline of responsibilities
- Time commitment expected
- Boundaries and limitations
- Skills, experience and qualifications required
- Personal traits and qualities needed and/or desired
- Orientation and training available
- Support, supervision and evaluation provided
- Mandatory activities (e.g. training, monthly meetings, travel)
- Working conditions (e.g. non-smoking environment)
- Benefits to the volunteer
Orientation & training
Recruitment of volunteers is usually done less formally than the recruitment of employees. In fact, volunteer recruitment could be done sometimes just by encouraging friends and people you know to help out with the organization´s activities. Nevertheless particularly for certain organization´s and volunteering opportunities, it is necessary to put more formal procedures and processes in place.
Be careful at the recruitment process you choose
It is recommended that you resort to a more formal recruitment process in which you post notices or mail requests for volunteers. When doing so it is also advisable to provide position descriptions.
It is recommended to try to avoid recruitment notices like, "Help! We´re desperate! Come and volunteer!" This sense of urgency does not always attract the type of volunteer the organization wants or needs.
Instead, the recruitment notice should communicate that your organization carefully selects its volunteers. For example, your recruitment notice could read "We´re seeking mature and reliable volunteers with relevant experience in “X” field to join with us in carrying out activities like X, Y, Z"
Be careful about how you recruit, especially for positions of trust with vulnerable participants.
Ensure that your recruiting material clearly outlines that it considers the needs and welfare of its service users, and, if appropriate, will screen all applicants. Do not leave people with the impression that everyone who applies will be accepted.
Make sure that your promotional material, including your position descriptions, are kept accurate and up-to-date.
If you are recruiting through your local volunteer centre, ensure that its staffs are kept up-to-date about changes in position descriptions and of any special considerations that would affect the referral of volunteers. When someone indicates interest in a position, send information to him or her before you commit to an interview. Ensure that the documents include all of the information available about the position in question.
It is only fair that there are no surprises, and that potential applicants are given an opportunity to screen themselves out at this point. It also saves time that might have been wasted interviewing someone who was not aware of the screening measures and who refuses to participate in them.
It is important to have a formal recruitment process.
The organization should be open about its process, including the screening, and make it clear that not everyone is accepted for the position for which they apply.
The screening process should be based on the assessment of the risk to which the participants are exposed.
Consider the following steps:
- Look at each position individually.
- Examine the position description and determine the nature and degree of risk to which participants are exposed through the delivery of services by volunteers in the position.
Screening can include police records checks and is proportional to the degree of risk to which the participant or the volunteers is exposed during the delivery of the volunteers’ service.
Given all that you know about the position, what do you need to know about the applicants in order to decide whether to accept or reject their applications?
Do you need to know about: professional qualifications, attitudes towards participants/ beneficiaries/ your cause, motivation for volunteering, etc.
1. Ensure your application form only asks for information related to the requirements of the position.
2. Questions on matters such as the candidate´s race, national origin, colour, religion or sex are prohibited under human rights legislation.
Interviews are an extremely important step in the screening process.
The interview provides not only an opportunity to talk to the potential volunteer about their background, talents, skills, interests and availability, but also to explore any doubts the organization may have about the suitability of the candidate for the position.
An interview also serves to communicate your organizational expectations. In other words, an interview will help determine if the applicant is "the right fit" for the job.
When planning an interview with a potential volunteer, you may want to consider the following:
▪ have at least two people conduct the interview;
▪ explain the interview process to the applicant;
▪ establish a comfortable environment for the applicant;
▪ describe the position specifically, using the position description;
▪ describe the screening procedures of your organization;
▪ document the applicant´s responses to the questions and keep them on file;
▪ look for attitudes towards your target group;
▪ ask all applicants the same basic questions for consistency.
The selection of appropriate questions is very important in volunteer screening. Also, remember that information sought during interviews is subject to the same provincial and federal human rights legislation mentioned in Step 4 – Application Form.
Interview questions should encourage responses that allow you to judge relevant work related experience, relevant formal and informal education; eagerness to work, ability to work with others, reliability and many more things related directly to the job description.
Reference checks. A reference check may be the most effective screening step during the selection process.
References will confirm the background and skills of the applicant and will provide an outside opinion on the suitability of the person for the position. Always ask for references. Do not assume that applicants will only give the names of people who will speak well of them. People often expect that references will not be contacted.
Screening is a process performed by an organization to ensure that the right match is made between the work to be done and the person who will do it. Screening serves to create and maintain a safe work environment. It is an ongoing process designed to identify any person– whether paid or unpaid, volunteer or staff – who may potentially cause harm to beneficiaries, particularly the young and other vulnerable people.
Screening requirements and procedures differ for each non-profit organization according to the level of risk to which participants are exposed. Clearly, the requirements to screen volunteers who would be unsupervised while working with children or other vulnerable persons are greater than for volunteers who would work with the same type of participants in a supervised setting.
When a volunteer first joins an organization, their involvement may start with a period of of orientation and training.
During the orientation and training period, an organization should:
▪ gain knowledge of the volunteer´s approach, values and work style – role playing may be used to explore some of these issues;
▪ ensure that the volunteer understands organizational policies as they relate to his or her role within the organization (i.e., policies governing road trips with vulnerable persons);
▪ work on the development of interpersonal skills, as required, in the areas where the volunteer will be working; and
▪ make the final decision as to whether the volunteer should be offered the position on a permanent basis.
The orientation and training period may also coincide with a probation period. A couple of weeks up to 2 months probatory period allows the organization and the volunteer to ensure they have made the right choices and offers each other the chance to change their minds.
▪ Inform all staff of the length of the volunteer´s probationary period.
▪ Conduct a personal interview with the volunteer at the end of the probationary period.
▪ Unless you have clear and irrefutable proof that the volunteer intends to harm a participant, you should avoid mentioning this possibility for reasons of liability.
▪ The basis for terminating a volunteer should be his or her performance in relation to the position (e.g. "This position is not best suited for your skills").
▪ Whenever possible, provide the volunteer with the reasons for termination (point out the gaps in performance).
▪ Emphasize the organization´s duty to properly fill positions involving the security of vulnerable persons.
▪ Finally, always thank them for having taken the time to try it out and perhaps suggest a different position (if wanted or needed).
Although volunteer orientation and training requires resources, your organization will benefit in the long-run through better informed volunteers, better job performance, increased job satisfaction, and a safer work environment.
Orientation and training sessions provide opportunities to observe and assess volunteers. Make orientation events mandatory and have trainings when necessary (if volunteers have to acquire specific competencies for the activities they will be involved in).
In addition to providing an opportunity to hand out written information (such as manuals and handbooks) and answer questions, orientation and training events give the organization a chance to track a volunteer during their probationary placement.
The organization should make it understood to the volunteer at the outset that the orientation and training activities are an integral part of their responsibilities as volunteers.
Involve other volunteers and staff in the orientation and training. This could be an opportunity staff to get closer to volunteers.
DU 2.2 Volunteer management 2: an ongoing process
Motivation & recognition
Supervision & Monitoring
Keeping volunteers engaged means knowing what their motivation is. It’s been said that volunteers can make their community a better place if the cause or issue that your organization is dealing with, has thrilled or even affected them, or they really believe in its values. Other important motivations include connecting with others, expanding personal/professional networks and learning new skills. These are all valid reasons and knowing what motivates a person to get involved in the first place will help determine how to keep them involved. For example, if their motivation is primarily to learn new skills, you can make sure that their volunteer opportunities are challenging and diverse. A very important thing to keep in mind is that a volunteer will be motivated from the very beginning;, each step you will take or propose can motivate or demotivate him/her.
Key to keeping volunteers motivated is recognition. Everyone likes to be thanked. And when one considers what a volunteer has given – their invaluable time – the importance of recognition really hits home. Yet just like motivations, everyone has different ways in which they prefer to be recognized. For some, public recognition is meaningful; for others, it is embarrassing. Some like many thanks; others wish the organization had instead spent those resources on programs and services. The best solution to this is simply to ask volunteers how they would like to be recognized; that way, everyone is thanked in a way that is meaningful to them.
Successfully Recognizing Volunteers
“Thank you” or “Way to Go” are the first steps in recognizing a volunteer’s work. Expressions of appreciation and recognition are important in keeping volunteers motivated and enthusiastic. Recognition has multiple functions beyond simple human courtesy. To the volunteer, recognition signifies that someone notices and someone cares. To the rest of the organization, recognition creates role models and communicates standards. Guidelines for recognition:
- Emphasise success rather than failure.
- Deliver recognition and reward in an open, public way.
- Deliver recognition in a personal and honest manner.
- Tailor your recognition and reward to the unique needs of the people involved. Having many recognition and reward options will enable management to acknowledge accomplishments in ways appropriate to the particulars of a given situation, selecting from a larger menu of possibilities.
- Timing is crucial. Recognize contribution through a project. Reward contribution close to the time an achievement is realized. Time delays weaken the impact of most rewards.
- Strive for a clear, unambiguous and well-communicated connection between accomplishments and rewards. Make sure people understand why they receive awards and the criteria used to determine awards.
- Recognize recognition. That is, recognize people who recognize others for doing what’s best for the organization.
Evaluation & Impact
Volunteers should complete monthly reporting sheets about their activity. This will keep you updated about their work and will be a useful tool for your organization’s annual reports or narrative projects reports.
Sometimes it is required, depending on the field of volunteering activities, that the information contained therein is verified, and that you as a volunteer coordinator regularly meet with volunteers to provide feedback on their work. Such supervision is a key step in volunteer management.
One of your tasks could also be to actively reduce risk in specific positions. For example, you could design positions that require volunteers to work in pairs with vulnerable persons or introduce an initial mentor phase where an experienced person works with new volunteers. Always think about all characteristics of the activity and try to find best options for volunteers but also for your organization outcomes.
If your volunteers are active in more than one position, make sure they are prepared for each position and not overwhelmed by a vast range of tasks. If volunteers change positions, make sure they know all the information and have competencies required for the new one.
Evaluation of a volunteer´s performance should occur at least once a year and possibly two or three times in the first year. This should be made clear to the applicant at the outset and the volunteers should be supported to understand the process they are in so they can give proper information when the evaluation is set.
Providing feedback on a volunteer´s performance is essential to improving his or her performance, increasing satisfaction and contributing to a safer work environment.
If evaluation is new to your volunteers, you have to explain the objectives and also to make clear its benefits of real improvement.
Benefits of evaluation could be:
▪ to ensure a certain standard of service is maintained;
▪ to improve the job performance of volunteers and staff;
▪ to obtain the volunteer´s input on what the organization could do better to support them in their role within the organization.
All evaluations should use the position description as a reference point and also establish other types of documents that you will use to collect data and feedback such as observation forms, questionnaires, monitoring sheets, feedback from beneficiaries, staff etc.
During the evaluation:
▪ go through the position description point by point with the volunteer;
▪ ask the volunteer to comment on how they think they are doing in the position and how they enjoy their work with the organization;
▪ give feedback on their performance;
▪ keep comments positive but clearly state any concerns;
▪ document the evaluation;
▪ have the document signed by both the volunteer and evaluator – (this could be the volunteers’ coordinator or project coordinator)
▪ file the document in the organization´s records.
The right degree of supervision and evaluation is important. The degree of supervision and evaluation of the volunteer will depend on the level of risk to the vulnerable persons receiving the service by the volunteer in the position – but all volunteers need to be periodically observed and given feedback.
Although costly and time-consuming, organizations that involve volunteers should have policies and procedures for the management of volunteers and for the protection of participants, other volunteers, staff and the general community.
No need to say that each organization is unique. Differences among organizations are due to many factors: country, the type of community (urban, rural, large, small,); the nature of the programs offered; the age of the participants involved; the management culture; and the socio-economic level of participants, etc.
There are many practical strategies to meet the various challenges of volunteer management and if you need to see and learn more you can also search for local organizations in your country who offer training and consultation and develop policies tailored to meet the needs of your organization.
Module 3 - The bigger picture
DU 3.1 Aspects of volunteer program management
How to grow your VM department – advocating for volunteering within and outside your organization
"Risk management" means asking, "What could go wrong and what do we do to avoid it?"
Risk management involves identifying the risk of loss or injury to a participant during the delivery of services. It is important to think about the vulnerability of the participant to whom the services are delivered. Accept the fact that participants can be harmed while receiving services from your organization. Once the risk has been identified, reasonable measures must be taken to prevent, minimize or eliminate that risk.
By working closely with volunteers and understanding the benefits to individuals, organizations, and the greater community, volunteer management professionals should advocate the promotion of volunteerism. This activity is not necessary, but can help grow the image of volunteers and could bring additional benefits to the organization. Keep your staff about informed the results of your volunteer team and also keep yourself updated with all policies in the field (search for European Union new strategies and apply if possible). Don’t miss opportunities such as local/national holidays and days of service to organize activities for the community.
Organize events for recognizing volunteers’ effort on International Volunteer Day and in the National Volunteer Week – several countries celebrate it, including Canada (April), US (April), Australia (May), New Zealand (June), and UK (June).
DU 3.2 Working with different stakeholders
Communicating about volunteering – clarifying concepts, debunking myths
How to work with corporate volunteers
A number of misconceptions obscure a proper understanding of the values and universal nature of volunteering. Reliable data and the addressing of misconceptions are vital for moving volunteerism forward. This is where you and your organization come in. An essential component of your role should include a focus on the correct promotion of concepts and practices related to volunteering and making sure volunteering is understood in all of its diversity.
In local organizations we sometimes operate in a fantasyland, ignoring the reality that people are living outside the four walls of the organization’s office. We create programs, activities and opportunities for people to volunteer their time and talent. When we do ask them to step up and participate, we’re often vague or we are stuck in some technical language.
It’s as though we think people walk through the front door of our organization saying, “I want my life to count. I want to make a difference. Everything I’m doing now, I’ll stop to be involved here.”
Talk about volunteering. Find your strong points and relevant stories for media, adapt your speech to the audience you have. Don’t assume people will figure this out on their own. Give specific examples about opportunities to make a contribution. There’s room for you.” And then we’ll point to the variety of areas where people can jump in and make a contribution.
More experienced or large not-for-profit organizations have more resources at their disposal, and a greater capacity to respond to this new demand for volunteering opportunities. However, while it may be more difficult for smaller organizations to engage corporate volunteers, the experience should not be missed. While corporate volunteering models vary, a lot of companies prefer to engage their staff in team-based projects. Some companies organize one or two community days per year involving most of their staff members. It still a great effort to take out the employees from their daily work and yet to keep up the same professional outcomes. Moreover the employees must be prepared about this type of activity and must be involved by their free choice.
Some examples of corporate volunteering can include: painting and grounds maintenance, planting trees or cleaning areas; preparing gardens for schools or day care centers, organizing in events, fundraising, building houses or small building shelter.
Sometimes companies would like also to be involved in individual opportunities especially if the roles require a high level of professional skill or expertise. These type of positions could include taking part in planning or management committees, mentoring programs and designing websites or financial strategies.
Prepare an Information Pack. Developing an information pack will make your organization more prepared when a company approaches you about the possibility of engaging its staff in volunteering projects. They can also be used in the future for prospective corporate partners.
Manage your corporate volunteers as you would your general volunteers, taking into account all steps already mentioned, adapting the timeframe and the contract terms established with your partner, the company. Yes, you have to build up a partnership involving your staff and people from company’s management. Depending on the activity they may also need time to complete a risk assessment. Keep in mind that staff will need to go through approval procedures before undertaking an activity.
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who works with volunteers. National Volunteer Center.
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