3 Needs of a Volunteer: Fit

10 Feb

Part 2 of 3.

If a volunteer gets burned out it is usually because they were put someplace they weren’t a good fit for. Consider these points to be my burnout prevention plan.

You and the volunteers need to be realistic about what exactly they can accomplish. Too often we get the idea that we should just take the amount of work needed to be done (x), divide it by the number of volunteers (y), and thus conclude that everyone’s workload should be z. x/y=z but it also equals universal unhappiness. You will be unhappy that everything is not getting done and the volunteers will be unhappy because you’ve completely overwhelmed them. It is much better to simply ask a volunteer how much time they can spend helping you out and then following up in a week to ask “Hey, how did that feel? Can you do more or do we need to back off a little?” Most people will say they can do more. Sometimes you can end up with a volunteer doing a workload of zbut they’re happy doing it because you eased them into it by increments that they agreed to.

Have volunteers do what they’re good at. Break out of the mental rut that volunteers can only set up banquet halls, assemble yard signs, and man parking lots. The best way to find out is to ask. “What do you feel you’re good at? What do you enjoy doing?” The volunteer who works as a salesman for his professional job should not be tasked with data entry. If a volunteer is always asking “Do you have these instructions in a spreadsheet format?” take a wild guess at what she could do! I feel like I should start quoting I Corinthians 11. Finally, remember that any task that you might pay someone to do can be done by a volunteer. There can be a big overlap between volunteerism and in-kind donations.

You need to give volunteers the training and tools they need to succeed. Most organizations are pretty good about tools, but training might be the most overlooked tool in volunteerism. In my experience, a lack of training is certainly one of the biggest causes of frustration in volunteers. Nothing is scarier than being asked to do something you don’t know how to go about doing. Don’t put someone in that spot. Volunteers can come to you already very skilled, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t show their value by adding to it. A lot of times they come to you very skilled in things totally unrelated to what your needs are. If they’re willing and intelligent, don’t let their inexperience count against them–just train them on what you need them to do.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: