The importance of volunteer management for nonprofits

Volunteers are just as valuable to a nonprofit as financial donations.
Date Published
11/26/2014

In addition to nonprofit fundraising efforts, charities also need other forms of help from contrubutors to ensure that their organizational missions are met. The use of volunteers, those who share the same passions or interests as a charitable organization, are a necessary component in ensuring that a nonprofit can help those it was designed to support.

Volunteer management is an often overlooked part of running a successful 501(c)(3) organization, but it is just as important as soliciting donors for financial contributions. However, it’s important to understand the stark contrast between management and leadership. In order to maximize the value that comes from enlisting the help of people who are willing to donate their time in lieu of money, there are ways to ensure that both the needs of the volunteer and the organization are met:

  • The importance of proper classification: Everyone has different strengths. When enlisting the help of volunteers, nonprofits should work to understand individual skill sets to ascertain where their time and service would be of the most value, according to an article written by Tamara Drossart for Our Volts. For example, those who are strong in data entry can be used at the nonprofit headquarters while those who are well-versed in customer service can help with outreach efforts. Properly identifying and then classifying volunteers based on skill can deliver results that are consistently positive and beneficial to the organization.
  • Management and leadership are not the same: When people are giving of their time, it’s important to treat them with respect for the work that they’re doing. Volunteer management is not about being an overseer, according to Volunteer Plain Talk. Instead, it’s more advantageous to help people understand how their help is needed and then manage the overall intricacies of a particular project. Wielding a heavy hand over those who are essentially working for no compensation undermines the spirit of volunteerism.
  • Utilize a volunteer management system: It’s important for leadership and decision-makers within a charitable organization to have a clear picture of who the people are donating their time and how much of a contribution they’re making. This is beneficial for a number of reasons. For one, it uncovers how much of an investment is being made on an individual basis. Secondly, this information can be used to thank people individually or appeal to them directly if more help is needed. Both sets of information are valuable and makes for a more robust volunteer management program.

Nonprofits will always need money. Donations are always necessary from contributors in order to ensure that an organization is strong from a financial perspective. However, the saying that “time is money,” certainly also applies as well. In addition to monetary resources, a charitable organization will always need a few extra sets of hands to get things done.

Because of this, it’s important for 501(c)(3) organizations to not take the help that people are willing to give for granted. People have a wide variety of ways in which they can spend their time. Doing so in order to help a nonprofit fulfill its missions represents an individual who is committed to serving others. Charities need to understand and appreciate these facts.

Enlisting the help of volunteers is just as important as raising money. Both are critical components to not only helping a nonprofit survive, but also thrive. As such, in addition to fundraising appeals, 501(c)(3) organizations also need to create volunteerism campaigns to get those who have more time than money to give of their time in pursuit of a larger and worthwhile goal.

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