Volunteers are one of the most important assets of our organization. We must provide proper leadership in order to give our volunteers a good experience, a feeling of accomplishment, possibly some new skills, and to leave them eager to volunteer again. We need to think about the volunteer experience whenever we create volunteer jobs. We shape our volunteer culture from the top down, and our senior volunteers and leads must provide good leadership and examples to our junior volunteers.
Leadership Traits and Tips
- Serve as an example.
- Make clear and timely decisions.
- Provide deadlines and follow-up on tasks through completion.
- Take a strong stance on your balance between personal life, professional life, and volunteer commitment.
- Build a cohesive force through your communication and leadership.
- Provide positive reinforcement for jobs done well with loud public appreciation. Correct problems privately with understanding and the goal of maintaining a good experience for everyone involved.
- Document experiences, contacts, task timelines, items that needed significant discussion, and lessons learned. Work toward creating a “guide” to give to the subsequent lead. A primary job of any lead is to train their replacement, therefore the lead shall gather all documentation so that it can all be easily reviewed and summarized. Email discussions, notes from verbal discussions, notes about anybody who has helped or advised, ideas that are not used (and the reason if possible), and any other information should be kept. There is always a small risk that any lead may suddenly stop being able to perform their job. Ideally another person would be able to step in, review documentation, and take over seamlessly.
Effective Team Leadership
- Build trust between team members.
- Inspire and motivate using teamwork to achieve goals.
- Influence valuable changes.
- Be open to new ideas from team members, actively solicit them.
- Consult frequently with key team members.
- Establish an open discussion for decision-making. Build Consensus.
- Distinguish the team from others – create an identity for the team.
- Encourage and support independent thinking.
- Recognize the skills of key team members and utilize their strengths to the benefit of the team.
- Define and state expectations and objectives with the team members ahead of time. Ensure that all members understand the missions ahead.
- Help settle disagreements between members – be the mediator.
- Make yourself receptive to both positive and negative feedback, especially post-task.
Basic Needs of Every Volunteer
- A specific, manageable task with a beginning and an end.
- A task that matches interests and reasons for volunteering.
- Clear instructions.
- A reasonable deadline for completing the task.
- Freedom to complete the task when and where it is most convenient for the volunteer.
- Everything necessary to complete the task without interruption.
- Adequate training.
- A safe, comfortable and friendly working environment.
- Follow-up to see that the task is completed.
- An opportunity to provide feedback when the task is finished.
- Appreciation and recognition that match the reasons for volunteering.
- Feeling that they have gained something valuable such as experience, higher community standing, trust, new friends, new ideas, creative inspiration, and other intangibles that being an active part of our community provides.
- Pride in accomplishment.
Volunteers who are getting free or reduced price services shall be asked to sign the following agreement:
In exchange for, and in Consideration of, the reduced price admission, I will perform my agreed upon tasks on time and to the best of my ability. I agree that if I find that I am not able to complete my tasks, I will contact my lead as soon as possible, and determine a new course of action.
If I have already entered the event and do no perform my tasks, I will refund the discount of my ticket (the difference from the full price). I understand that failure to complete my tasks may result in denial of the opportunity to get volunteer discounts in the future.