How to be a good volunteer coordinator

What does a volunteer coordinator do?

A volunteer coordinator is responsible for managing and overseeing the activities of volunteers within an organisation or a specific project. They recruit, train, schedule and support the volunteers in completing their tasks. Of course the specific duties and responsibilities of a volunteer coordinator may vary depending on the organisation and its needs.

In short – a volunteer coordinator helps each volunteer to use their skills and contribute their skills to support the organisation. A successful volunteer coordinator plays a crucial role in creating a positive and rewarding volunteer experience.

Illustration of a volunteer coordinator

How to be a good volunteer coordinator?

Volunteer management involves a combination of administrative capabilities and social skills. Of course, you also need to have a genuine passion for the cause you are working for.

✅ Be influential and earn respect

Volunteers usually have no contracted obligation deliver any results. They are motivated by their passion for the cause. Recognition, appreciation, and a sense of fulfillment from contributing to a meaningful mission are often the primary motivators for volunteers.

Volunteer coordinators do not have the same formal authority over their team. This is why they need to rely on influence, persuasion, and relationship-building to earn the trust and respect.

✅ Be flexibile to meet the needs

Listen to the needs and concerns of volunteers. Then provide them with all the information they need to succeed in their roles. You must be a clear and open communicator.

Volunteers usually have other commitments like jobs, studies, or personal obligations. Volunteer coordinators must be flexible and work with the existing limitations.

Be well-organized and able to manage schedules, tasks, and resources efficiently. A structured approach will help you handle the diverse needs of volunteers and ensure the smooth functioning of volunteer activities.

✅ Work hard to match the strengths

Learn to delegate responsibilities to volunteers according to their strengths and interests. Volunteers can feel disengaged and unfulfilled when assigned roles that don’t align with their interests or strengths. They may even leave or discontinue their involvement.

Knowing their strengths is a first step. You can conduct surveys and interviews, or have informal conversations to learn about their skills, interests, experiences, and availability.

Volunteers may have multiple strengths or interests, so don’t rush to lock them into specific roles. Allow them to explore various roles that they might be interested in, and move to perform different tasks within the organisation. Flexibility allows volunteers to contribute in ways that align with their preferences.

If you have limited number of volunteers available, their strengths may not perfectly align with all organizational needs. Volunteers with specific skills may become overburdened with tasks, leading to burnout. A great volunteer coordinator needs to overcome these issues with effective communication, ongoing feedback, and a willingness to adapt.

Go the extra mile

Keep detailed records of volunteer information, hours worked, and achievements. This data will be valuable for reporting and future planning. Make it your priority, because it will make your work easier in the long run.

Make an actual effort to acknowledge and appreciate the efforts of volunteers regularly. Be personal and specific – genuine appreciation goes beyond just throwing a generic pizza party. The key is to make volunteers feel valued, recognized, and an essential part of the mission. Consistently expressing gratitude and recognizing their efforts will help build a strong and committed volunteer community.