Just as they rely on the services on paid staff, many charities also rely heavily on the services and hours which are put in by teams of dedicated volunteers. Whilst it might be accepted that the volunteers are every bit as conscientious and passionate as their paid and employed counterparts, they do have to be recruited and trained to do the task as is necessary. These tasks can range from collecting and fundraising to acting as sales assistants in the many retail outlets which a charity might run.
Whatever the scope of the volunteer job involved, the task of recruiting, training and managing volunteers is a highly considered position irrespective of the charity involved or its size, and the volunteer managers are often Human Resources professionals who have many years of experience within their particular field. However, if you are looking for a job within volunteer management then there a number of skills you must be able to demonstrate.
Passion for the charity involved
Because part of your role will involve recruiting new supporters and volunteers, it’s essential that you’re passionate about the charity and their work – and you must be able to communicate that passion well. Without this passion, you won’t be able to gain the confidence of the people you want to be working with and they won’t feel enthused about the work they might be doing either.
Interpersonal and communication skills
You’ll need to be outgoing, highly motivated and able to communicate yourself well. As well as recruiting volunteers, you’ll be responsible for communicating with them at every stage in their volunteering career so it’s essential that you’re outgoing and able to make yourself heard and understood as well as keeping the interest of the volunteers.
The majority of the people you’ll be working with might not have worked for yours or any other charity before so a large part of your role will involve training them to the required standard. Whether they’re going to be fundraising, collecting or doing telesales, it’s essential that they have the right attitude and present the charity in the right way and this will be an important part of your job as you make sure they’re fully up to date with everything the charity stands for and is doing. In addition to their initial training they’re likely to need on-going training to cover policy changes, health and safety information or to advise them of new campaigns.
In addition, you may be the first point of contact for the volunteers and might be called on to manage them on a daily basis, so you’ll need great people management skills and a fair attitude.
The boring stuff
It’s a sad sign of the times that any employing of volunteers requires a mountain of risk assessment and health and safety paperwork but without doing all of this, you won’t be able to recruit anyone. With that in mind, you’ll need to have knowledge of legislation and relevant rules, be able to maintain the paperwork and be able to keep up with any changes.
Craig Wetherspoon writes for numerous publications and regularly volunteers with Third Sector organisations.