Turn Your Organisation into a Volunteer Magnet - Volunteer Programme Administration – Magnetic Management Keeping it Meaningful, The Objectives of Volunteers Author: Liz O(Not Set)
Organizations devote significant resources to attract the quantity and quality of volunteers needed to offer the programs and services they provide. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Edmonton and Area (BBBSE) is no exception here. Through investment in recruitment and marketing,
and continuous improvement in our processes, we have grown our volunteer numbers from 800 to 2,100 over the last four years.
However, getting applicants "to the door" is just one step. As we reflect on BBBSE's success to date, a key learning has been around fostering meaningful and magnetic experiences for our volunteers, in addition to effective outcomes for the children we serve. Based on this reflection, our advice to others would be the following:
Provide a flexible range of volunteer experiences through a broad range of partners. BBBSE provides a range of flexible mentoring options and locations to serve children of all ages, so that volunteers can pick the type of mentoring option that fits their interests, needs or
schedule. BBBSE has also been part of developing a broad base of partnerships in the public, non-profit and private sector that recognize volunteer mentoring outcomes as essential for our youth. As a result, our volunteer base is as diverse as our community partnerships (i.e. high school students to senior citizens, and across socio-economic and cultural groups).
Prepare volunteers so that they understanding the significance of their role. Many adults seek a volunteer mentoring role because they themselves have been impacted by a mentor. While potential volunteers often understand the what of the mentor role, they may not understand the why of how this role is important.
We have found that orientation sessions prior to volunteers assuming their role enhance volunteer confidence, effectiveness, and satisfaction. Potential volunteers often bring very different life experiences and assumptions than the children or youth served. Interactive orientations on resiliency, child development, match safety and relationships building pay off immediately in volunteer satisfaction.
Building A Web of Support Relationships For Volunteer Success. We know from research that stable mentoring relationships lead to very positive outcomes for children and youth. We also know that this generates positive outcomes for mentors. We have found that when we support volunteers with a web of relationships that continue to build volunteer confidence and effectiveness, volunteers are retained.
BBBSE's community-based match support staff plays a primary role here. Workers touch base regularly with mentors, children and parents, to help identify emerging questions. Staff then link mentors to people that can help. For example, parents are skilled in helping mentors plan for issues that might arise for a child with a disability. Community agencies can connect mentors to activities that reflect the aspirations of a child's cultural community. Introductions to
experienced BBBSE mentors that have encountered similar issues may also yield good advice.
Volunteers come to our organizations because they "want to make a difference." Our major task is to educate, support and recognize volunteers, so that they experience success in this important personal objective.
By Liz O'Neill.
Reprinted from Turn Your Organisation Into A Volunteer Magnet, 2nd edition (ed. Fryar, Jackson & Dyer) 2007
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