Friday, April 19, 2013

Successfully Recruiting and Working with Volunteers Keeps Community Organizations Rolling

Contact: David Burton, civic communication specialist
Tel: (417) 881-8909

Without volunteers, many community organizations and groups would not be able to function. That includes University of Missouri Extension programs like 4-H, Master Gardeners and county extension councils.

Volunteers are the essential wheels that keep an organization rolling.

Whether your organization already uses volunteers or is thinking about developing a volunteer program, specialists with MU Extension have experience in working with volunteers and can offer programs for being successful.

MU Extension specialists offer up these six tips as the most important ones to remember.

Prepare before bringing on volunteers. Be sure your organization has addressed any liability issues regarding volunteers and has a volunteer screening program in place.

Recognize the contributions of your volunteers. Consider internal recognition since not all volunteers want their photo in the local paper. Some are happy to receive public recognition and public recognition also increases awareness of your organization and can be an effective recruiting tool for new volunteers.

Set a level of expectations. An organization should have clear expectations for volunteers. What are the different roles volunteers can fill? Are there any special qualifications needed? How much effort and time will the project require? Is there an amount of volunteer time too small to accept?

Who knows your organization needs volunteers? Leaders in community groups often complain about a lack of volunteers. When that is the case, the first question to ask is, “who knows you need volunteers?" Before volunteers can take advantage of the opportunity to give their time, they need to know there is a need.

Respect a volunteer’s time. Time is a valuable commodity. Your volunteers are giving of themselves as well as giving their time. No one is just a volunteer. Make good use of their time but do not abuse the time they give.

Retention of volunteers. Address volunteer burn out before it happens. Volunteers need time off, too. Your organization does not want to have the reputation of exhausting their volunteers.

For more information on developing volunteers and board members contact any of these MU Extension specialists in southwest Missouri: Dr. Jim Wirth (417) 881-8909, Renette Wardlow (417) 581-3558 or David Burton, (417) 881-8909.


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