Outline Your Needs

What are your organization’s staffing needs?  Think big; volunteers can handle a wide range of tasks, including these:

  • Strategic planning, business planning, emergency planning.
  • Development and fundraising, financial planning.
  • Marketing and public relations.
  • Information technology.

Take advantage of the flexibility volunteer staffing allows. You can offer opportunities at all levels of the organization and of varying duration: bridge jobs, internships, short-term consulting projects, self-directed team projects.

Consider Aging-Network Needs

You may have similar needs to others in the Aging Services Network and can model your plan after theirs. A series of reports, Use of Volunteers in State Agencies on Aging and Disabilities, gave study findings and a view of volunteers within the Senior Medicaid Patrol, State Health Insurance Program, State Long Term Care Ombudsman Program and the Aging and Disability Resource Centers.

In addition to sharing volunteer demographics (mostly female, ages 65 to 74), results paint state volunteer programs as underfunded and understaffed, without volunteer coordinators. Only 42% have created plans to attract boomers. Advertising for volunteers is a critical step.

Steps to Start

  • Develop a draft plan (see Business Planning for Enduring Social Impact).
  • Identify partners and meet with their leadership team, board and staff.  (Look for shared goals, values and purpose, complementary strengths and committed leaders; see more at How to Create Effective Partnerships).
  • Create a steering committee.
  • Refine and publicize the plan.
  • Ask staff members to write descriptions of one or two projects with which they could use volunteers with professional experience.
  • Compile project descriptions and a short list of needed skills.
  • Create and schedule an orientation for volunteers and staff.
  • Begin recruitment. Meet one-on-one with each potential volunteer to assess skills and interests.
  • Be flexible; let the potential volunteer choose tasks and time commitment.
  • Meet with the volunteer and the staff project manager initially to refine tasks and periodically to ensure both parties are satisfied.
  • Collect outcomes data.
  • Recognize and publicize successful projects and volunteers.

See Making It Work: Best Practices for Your Volunteer Program for more ideas.


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