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How Non-Profits Can Recruit and Manage Skilled Volunteers

Posted By Leila MacDonald, VECTor16 Presenter, January-14-16
Updated: January-13-16
 Senior woman smiling

Lelia MacDonald presents “How to Recruit & Manage Professional Volunteers” at the 2016
VECTor Conference on March 9, 2016. 
Register now to choose her workshop, and check out some great tips below!


A skilled volunteer is a professional who offers specific expertise, for example in HR, strategy or marketing.  Unlike volunteers who help with operations, skilled volunteers help management. 


Why do you need a skilled volunteer?

·      Expertise that fills a gap

·      Short term (you don’t need to nurture them over time like an employee)

·      Unbiased third party (they are not tied to the ways things used to be and they don’t have pet projects)

·      Outside perspective (they are not caught up in the daily crises, so it’s easier for them to see the big picture)


6 Steps For Recruiting and Managing Skilled Volunteers


1. Recruit

Write a job description and post on:

·      Online posting boards (such as Volunteer Toronto)

·      Your own website, LinkedIn, Facebook, and through connections of your Board of Directors

·      Local companies with a large head office

·      In Toronto, MAS is a pro bono consulting charity


2. Understand what is in it for them

You can pay a skilled volunteer in ways other than money.  Perhaps they want to build their resume or learn a new industry.  Perhaps they want to give back using the skills they learned in their career.  Perhaps they want to see the difference they can make.  Being open about their needs will help you trust them to stay motivated and give their project the attention it deserves.


3. Select

Interview them like you would a prospective employee.  Check for good listening skills, easy-to-understand language, and a spirit of collaboration.


4. Manage

Mutually structure the relationship like a consultant.  Draw up a proposal that defines the frequency of meetings and the topics to be investigated. 


5. Orient your volunteer

Even if your volunteer is only around for one project, make sure they understand the mission and structure of your organization, and that they know how their work fits into the bigger picture of what you do.


6. Make it worthwhile

At the end, finish with a close form.  This is how you “pay” your skilled volunteer.  It gives them a sense of accomplishment and closure.  It formalizes what they can put on their resume and what you will say as a reference.

Lelia MacDonald is a Volunteer Consultant with MAS, a charity that gives pro bono advice to Toronto nonprofits since 1993. MAS’s 50 Volunteer Consultants in governance, strategy, marketing, HR and fundraising are professionals who give back using the skills they learned in their careers.

Tags:  how to get volunteers for your event  Ontario  Toronto  VECTor 2016  VECTor Conference  volunteer management  volunteer recruitment  volunteering 

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