Filling the Volunteer Void: How to Manage Your Group When Help is Short
You might have a great group of volunteers only to find out that when you really need them, they do not heed the call. You are then stuck with the daunting task of manning an event or program without enough help, maybe even by yourself.
How do you manage a volunteer group when you don’t have enough volunteers? Unfortunately, this scenario happens from time to time to even the best and most organized nonprofit. To help you in your time of need, here are a few simple tips on how to manage your volunteer group.
Make Yourself Heard
If you need a lot of volunteers, make sure to cast a wide net. Utilize emails and social media to contact your volunteers and let you know they need them and why they are needed. If you aren’t getting an adequate response, send a follow-up email followed by a call, to let them know how much you need them. Current volunteers are typically great resources for recruiting more volunteers, so ask each one of your volunteer group to bring along a friend to help.
If you have plenty of lead time, there are online resources, like Idealist.org, that you can post your event on to reach out to potential volunteers. Volunteermatch.org also works well for advertising your volunteer need and finding interested folks in your area.
There are many ways that technology can aid you. One way may be in getting volunteers to call in or video chat into a meeting or training. If a volunteer doesn’t have to drive back and forth, people may be more inclined to participate. Alternately, think of projects that volunteers can take home to work on in the evening hours. If you work with the volunteer’s schedule, chances are they can squeeze in a couple hours during the day.
Rethink Your Plan
If all else fails and you still have a volunteer issue, rethink your plan. Figure out ways to minimize the job you have to do or to postpone it until a time that you have more volunteer support. Maybe you can reschedule the event or the timing of a program launch until more helping hands are available.
Do make sure that your staff members and Board of Directors knows that you are short on help. Hopefully, if they are aware of the situation, they will offer to help themselves or at least help develop a back-up plan.
No one wants to be caught short-handed. Fortunately, you now have these handy tips to keep in mind if it happens to you.