The third sector relies on the dedication and expertise of volunteers who often work alongside employees. The impact these volunteers can have from the shop floor through to board level is incredible and many organisations would not be able to fulfil their mission without the knowledge and investment of people who voluntarily donate their time.
The Third Sector Project reports that 22% of people volunteered at least once a month during 2018 with those who did not work investing more of their time than those juggling paid employment with study and family.
The most common reasons for volunteering were more altruistic in origin with a desire to improve things or to help people being listed by 46% of respondents whilst only 2% reported volunteering in order to get a qualification.
The decision made by volunteers to freely give up their time, knowledge and expertise for an organisation or cause is something that needs to be respected and valued if organisations are to grow, prosper and retain that talent.
So, whether at board level or on the shop floor, here are some things to consider.
Volunteers are Valuable
Volunteers have a home life and most likely a work life too. They are just as valuable and important as any other member of staff. Treating volunteers and board members poorly will lead to a permanent loss of that talent and support. Whether founder, executive or manager – the volunteer at any level is worthy of respect, professionalism and appreciation. The organisations that flourish are the ones that recognise the value of volunteers’ time.
Nothing successful can be built without mutual respect. The people who choose to help you have their own goals, preferences and wishes. Get to know them, work with them and build something together. Training, development opportunities and inclusion in wider organisational goals, events and publicity will go a long to making sure your team is there for you when you need them.
If the organisation is built with volunteers, then develop them too. This helps them to continue to contribute alongside to your organisation. As demands on the organisation grows then the developing volunteers can grow to help meet them.
Not all superheroes wear capes but volunteers certainly should. Respect, teamwork and appreciation will go a long way to making sure that you grow alongside a dedicated pool of volunteers at every level of your organisation.
Gareth Snaith, Contract Performance Manager, 3SC