What are the most common challenges in dealing with volunteers?

3 minute read
By the
  • Jul 18th, 2017

Dealing with volunteers can be as challenging as managing employed workers in an organization or even worse. That’s because staffs in nonprofit organizations supervise constantly changing volunteers. They are also required to react quickly whenever there is a need in the organization. Nevertheless, identifying the most common challenges in dealing with volunteers enables nonprofit organizations to come up with strategies for handling issues as they arise.

Finding and retaining good volunteers

Recruiting volunteers for nonprofit organizations is usually a time-consuming and ongoing process. Basically, most nonprofit organizations depend on volunteers that come and leave after a while. Some leave after losing interest in the volunteering work. Others resign because of changes in their work or personal circumstances. Nevertheless, finding and retaining good volunteers is very important because it enables nonprofit organizations to have willing workers. How nonprofit organizations do this varies. For instance, organizations that focus on young volunteers can focus on the social media to find volunteers. If your organization depends on retirees, it can find adverts on newspapers. Thus, approaches for finding and retaining volunteers vary from one organization to another.

Volunteers have limited time

Most volunteers spend limited time in nonprofit organizations. And sometimes, times for volunteers that can work better together are inconvenient. That means it’s challenging for nonprofit organizations to have individuals with the right skills at the same time. Perhaps, this gets more complicated because nonprofit organizations don’t have sufficient time and resources to train volunteers. Thus, things get challenging when nonprofit organizations have specialized tasks that need trained volunteers to work together yet they are not available at the same time. Sometimes, there may be limited volunteers to perform a task that requires specialized skills.

Volunteer No-shows/Not committed to the cause

Every person volunteers for different reasons. There are people that volunteer in a nonprofit organization because they love the social aspect of volunteering. Others volunteer to learn new skills from other volunteers while others volunteer because they want to help using their skills. That means levels of commitment to the cause of your organization will vary among the volunteers. Usually, this happens in most cases due to the tasks that volunteers are required to perform. For instance, an accountant volunteer will be interested in reviewing the accounting procedures of an organization. Asking such a volunteer to make copies will make them less motivated.

Coordinating volunteer schedules

People have different times when they would like to volunteer in your organization. That means you have to coordinate their schedules for your organization to achieve its goals. This is not easy especially when you want some volunteers to work together. Inconsistencies in interests, efforts, and time across volunteers are usually a challenge. Sometimes, you may have high hopes in a volunteer but they suddenly drop off. That means the organization has to interrupt the schedules of the other volunteers to have some volunteers perform the tasks of that volunteer or recruit a new volunteer.

Training new volunteers

Most nonprofit organizations operate on tight budgets. However, some volunteers join them without even the slightest idea of what they will be doing. Although larger organizations have managers that provide basic training, there are specialized tasks that require extensive training. That means long term volunteers that will perform the same specialized tasks every day for a long period have to undergo specialized training. This training can be offered by volunteers that have been performing the tasks or the organization can take the new volunteers for specialized training. Nevertheless, staff members assume the training responsibility in most nonprofit organizations.

Generally, dealing with volunteers in a nonprofit organization can be tricky. Usually, volunteers are not paid like employees of a profit making organization but they require managing to perform. Unfortunately, volunteers are mostly the majority in nonprofit organizations. That means they are responsible for performing most daily tasks in these organizations. Nevertheless, when you know the most common challenges in dealing with volunteers, managing them in your nonprofit organization becomes easier.

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