I was talking with a friend of mine who is struggling with a tough decision. He began volunteering for an organization that he believes in – yet he is discouraged by the experience and is thinking that he may have to resign from serving on their Board. So what went wrong? The answer is a simple one – yet not an uncommon one. Expectations weren’t made clear by the organization when they recruited him and he wasn’t clear about what he expected as a volunteer for the organization when he accepted the position.
Volunteers are key to the success of most non-profit organizations and many of us find great rewards in volunteering our time serving the organizations we believe in. Like any relationship – it can be a successful one or a difficult one and it all comes down to both parties knowing what’s expected of them.
Before an organization even begins recruiting volunteers they need to develop a job description for the volunteers and decide how many they will need, for how long and what their purpose and role will be. Then they need to find the right people with the right skills to successfully fill those positions. During the recruitment process organizations need to be very clear about what is expected of potential volunteers. Once the volunteers are on board the organization needs to continue this discussion during the orientation process.
“Volunteers-to-be” want to know exactly what is expected of them so they can make a well thought out decision as to whether or not they can serve the organization successfully. Common concerns include how much of a time commitment is expected? Will the duties match my skills? Will I be asked to engage in fundraising activities and how?
Once a volunteer agrees to serve - the organization needs to spend time educating them about the organization and the role they will play. An orientation for new volunteers is critical to getting the volunteer off on the right foot and clarifying expectations. Potential volunteers also need to be clear about what they can do, can’t do, and what they expect from an organization to help them be successful as volunteers.
There are many great organizations in our community that need us to volunteer for them. I encourage you to do so. That being said – take the time to find the organization that is the best fit for you at this time in your life. Ask good questions of the organization so you know exactly what you are volunteering for and what will be expected of you. If both parties are clear about expectations from the very beginning the experience will be a successful and rewarding one for everyone involved!