During my decades of being a volunteer and working with volunteers, I have had some amazing leaders for which I would do anything they asked. I’ve also had ones that made me walk away from organizations whose mission I had been passionate about. When I began leading volunteers myself, I studied the leadership skills of those that I admired. Here’s what I discovered.
They took time at the beginning.
They asked about my skills, my interests and why I chose to volunteer for them.
Then they put me into roles where I could both use the skills I had and gain new ones in the areas I was interested in.
The information gained allowed them to use me to the organization’s best advantage, as well as tailoring my experience in such a way as to keep me interested and enthusiastic.
They ensured that I had the training and the resources I needed to do the task well.
They made sure I was prepared. Whether it was training on a computer program or providing me with activities to do with my Little Sister.
Volunteers complete tasks more efficiently when they understand the work and have everything they need to do the job well.
They also gain a sense of accomplishment that keeps them coming back for more.
They allowed me to make mistakes without making me feel like a failure.
When I screwed up, they simply showed me how to fix it, and gave me ideas on how to prevent the mistake from happening again.
Instead of recrimination, there was simply an encouraging belief that I would do better next time.
Finally, they were lavish with their praise.
If I did something well, or I put a big effort in, they made sure that I knew that they saw and appreciated it.
It wasn’t always a big deal, sometimes it was simply a “well done” or a “I really appreciate the work you put into this”.
These comments made me feel valued and important. I was making a difference to the cause that I believed in.
Being a good volunteer coordinator isn’t complicated.
Stay conscious of both the organization’s needs and the needs and desires of the individual volunteers. When you have the leadership skills to balance them, you will be successful.
Find more ways to create an enthusiastic, reliable and committed volunteer team here.