I’ve had a great response to my last blog about directing volunteers and I thought I would share some of the very helpful comments that have been made as these might be useful for many of you, as they are to me.
The question I asked was how much should we direct volunteers, and who should direct and how?
‘I think there is every reason to create ‘volunteer contracts’ and job descriptions – for all volunteers young or old. Using these mean everyone’s expectations are clear from the outset. They also became an important reference point if things start to stray.’
‘To be fair to volunteers I think we need to be clear what they can and can’t do and match people to their skills and experience. ‘
‘When people first volunteer in any group, they need some direct in the early stages. The amount depends on the individual (e.g. relevant experience) and age can be a factor as often young people are less confident’.
‘A good induction is crucial.’
‘I don’t think it takes long for new volunteers to gain confidence, mostly from observing existing volunteers (experienced volunteers soon pick up on how much direction is needed).’
‘My view is that the amount of direction has to be on an individual basis’.
‘Volunteers can develop and move on in new careers – or their current ones – given the right training and support.’
‘Opportunity for feedback can develop their skills and confidence – volunteers are so valuable’.
Structure is clearly important for volunteers and organisations to thrive – as is the need to value what volunteering brings to the volunteer as well as the organisation. I hope these comments will help some of you, particularly in smaller organisations where structure can sometimes be hard to pin down when a few time-pressed people are taking on a lot of tasks.