george patton leadership quote

5 Tips for Managing Volunteers

Congratulations! You are on the newly elected Board of Directors for your kid’s activity. (Perhaps there should be a question mark after “congratulations”). It probably feels like a double-edged sword about now. If you’ve never done this before, you probably have so many questions running around it your head.

Let me try to help. I’ve been in your shoes more than once and I know it is a scary place to stand…right up there at the front of the room. You can do this, though and I’m here to help you through it.

First…Don’t micromanage

5 Tips from Mitsy for Managing Volunteers
Mitsy tip: don’t micromanage

Some really smart people have figured this out a long time ago. Take their advice!

It is hard to do, yes, but avoid micromanaging your volunteers. Give them an objective and a few guidelines, then step back and let them work their magic. People who volunteer want to put their own stamp on a program or event. They want to feel like this is their baby. Let your volunteers have it.

Sure, some might fail. It is inevitable. But most will succeed. And they will succeed in ways you had never imagined.

Make yourself available to help when needed. Check in regularly and ask what you can do to help. Otherwise, get out of the way.

Use G-Suite and have dedicated email addresses for your whole team

5 Tips from Mitsy for Managing Volunteers
Mitsy Tip: Use GSuite

Google has a terrific set of tools for business called G-Suite. And, guess what? It is FREE for nonprofits!

G-Suite allows you to have unlimited email addresses with your own domain name and includes Google docs and sheets, Google Drive, and all of the other great Google tools.

Having a dedicated email address is important for many reasons:

  1. Keeping your volunteer work separate from you personal or work work allows you to focus on one thing at a time making your more productive
  2. Your account (email, documents, etc.) can quickly and easily transition to your replacement providing important institutional knowledge.
  3. You don’t put your personal email address on a public website and open the doors to spammers.
  4. People who contact you regularly won’t need to be forwarded to your replacement once you finish your term.

Ask for help…be specific

5 Tips from Mitsy for Managing Volunteers
Mitsy Tip: ask for help

It is hard to turn down an in-person request for help. Use that to your advantage. Identify a couple of people who might be able to help with a specific task or role then make a point of “running into them”.

Be specific in your request. If you have a job description, even better! People will be inclined to say no if they don’t know exactly what they are getting into and have a good idea of how much time they will need to dedicate.

Don’t forget, parents want to be involved! All too often, though, they just don’t know where their time, talents or money can be used best.

Don’t be afraid to tell them!

Speaking of time, dedicate some, every week, to your volunteer role

5 Tips from Mitsy for Managing Volunteers
Mitsy tip: Set aside time

Set aside time to send and answer emails, make phone calls, create spreadsheets, etc. There aren’t many emergencies that must be responded to immediately, so take advantage of that.

Being able to focus entirely on the task at hand will make you more productive. There are lots of studies that show multi-tasking is inefficient. Try to avoid it at all costs!

Thank your volunteers

5 Tips from Mitsy for Managing Volunteers
Mitsy tip: gratitude

Genuinely, and publicly thank the people who have worked hard for your organization. This is the critical, final step to ensuring they feel good about the work they’ve done. And, importantly, are willing to return for another job!

There you have it, a quick guide to making this job the best one you’ve ever had.

Congratulations! You are ready to take the volunteer world by storm.

If you are looking for a little extra boost to make the job easier, check out the suite of tools we’ve put together at Mitsy. Our goal, like yours, is to unite, organize and inform your community and we make it easier than ever to accomplish that goal.