Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What happened to all the volunteer coordinators?

Recently it seems like less and less volunteer newsletters and correspondence from non-profits are being received. Less communication across the board.

Communication that is received appears to be primarily through Facebook groups, with articles of national interest, not related to the local community.

Could it be the days of one-on-one communication is a thing of the past?

What could be the root to this?

Could it be the organizations are focusing more on corporations for major donations (to sustain their staff) with less focus on the volunteers?

Or could it be a lot less complicated? With the economy, we have seen many positions cut and staff turn-over (due to low salaries) at non-profits, along with a change of focus. Could it be that the non-profits can no longer afford to focus on the individual active volunteer?

Could it be that the people who were best at communication and working one-on-one with volunteers are no longer there?

Recently when trying to reach out to a volunteer coordinator, it was determined, she was no longer with the organization. When going to the website to see who the new contact was, no one was listed. You needed to re-register as a volunteer, for someone to contact you.

This does not make sense. When a staff member moves on, so do the volunteers? How can we avoid this and keep the momentum going with staff turn-over?

Solving the problem, if THERE IS a problem

The lesson here might be with a volunteer management system. Another Citizen Corps Affiliate organization has a volunteer registration system and when the staff member moved on, communication actually increased and the new staff member was very responsive to emails.

Another example, with a Citizen Corps core program where a few people moved on to other roles, that system maintained the list of volunteers, but communications has lessened. Hopes are that with National Preparedness Month just around the corner this will pick up.

In summary, good people help motivate good volunteers. When staff moves on, the volunteers shouldn't. Non-profits need to understand this is an issue.

Communication is key to sustaining the volunteer workforce. A very simple concept, but an issue that should not be overlooked.

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