Ten Tips for Getting Things Done with Volunteers
Blog: Collaborative Planning & Social Business
Some say it is like herding cats, but sometimes it is more like channeling the torrent, it always depends on the group, but there are several key activities that you should be doing in order to make your volunteer group as successful as possible.
- Create a space where you can share things online. Contribution must be easy as uploading a document. It must be safe, secure, and reliable.
- Make members feel included. Give them access to the shared space, and let them see themselves included in the team.
- Regular updates to keep members involved with some sort of weekly newsletter or a status update.
- Hold meetings on schedule. Some groups need to meet weekly, some monthly, and some only a few times a year. Whichever it is, schedule carefully and then don’t change the schedule capriciously.
- Prepare for your meetings. Have an agenda sent out ahead of the meeting. Assign people to parts of the agenda so they can prepare in advance.
- Start and end meetings on time. Volunteers give their time, and it should be treated with the respect it deserves. By showing respect, they feel appreciated, and that encourages more volunteering.
- Record what happened. Keep discussion notes and decisions so that everyone on the team can see them later.
- Organize to bring new members on. New members start with enthusiasm and you must be careful not to lose that. They are essential to growth and need to be prepared to be effective quickly?
- Keep an archive of everything done in the past. This helps new members become aware of what the group has done, as well as what the open opportunities are.
- Avoid email conversations because people who join after the email exchange have no access and are left out.
- Keep a list of tasks and commitments. You can only expect to have a small fraction of a volunteer’s time — maybe only an hour a week — and your challenge is to make the most of that time. An organized task list can help people contribute when they have limited time.
- Recognize contributions. As people complete things, don’t forget to notice this in some official way.
Every volunteer organization is different, so it is up to you as the organizer to fit the people into positions as best you can. You don’t have the luxury of simply hiring the talent you want, but with careful organization you may find you have all the talent you need. Most of all, volunteer organizations benefit from transparency. Motivated volunteers like to be part of an organization that is getting things done, so the more they see being completed, the more they want to contribute. Show them they are successful, and everybody wins.
Circle Weaver is a platform for organizing any kind of group, and it is a very low-cost effective way to keep groups on the same page. We make it available at low-cost, or even free to small non-profit charity organizations. Circle Weaver is a coop united by a single theme: people are the source of all good, and when we work together we transcend our challenges. If you don’t know Weaver, give us a try!
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