This post is the fourth in a series study guides I created as I was studying for the CFRE exam. The source for most of this information is the AFP Review Course for the CFRE Exam, summarized and reorganized to match the format of the CFRE Test Content Outline.
My notes on Volunteer Involvement:
A. Create a structured process for the identification, recruitment, evaluation, recognition, and replacement of volunteers, in order to strengthen the organisation’s effectiveness.
Volunteers are an amazing resource for any non-profit organization. They not only allow the organization to amplify its’ efforts, but also help the organization expand its’ network. Building a strong volunteer base helps engage supporters in the mission of the organization, and in doing so helps fundraising.
People volunteer because:
- Their employer encouraged them to do so.
- They have a desire to develop skills or expertise.
- They want to build personal relationships.
- They want to gain status by showing social involvement.
- They have a desire to make a difference.
- They were asked.
Volunteers tend to work in one of three areas: Governance, Program Support or Development. Matching volunteers based on their skill types, and their interests is an important part of volunteer recruitment.
Identifying and Recruiting Volunteers
- Examine lifestyle and demographic profiles: Check into volunteers interests and determine their expectations for volunteering.
- Determine qualifications: Be as specific as possible regarding the requirements of the organization and the volunteer position so you can determine fit. Create a very specific job description that outlines the qualifications needed for the position
Undergo recruitment process, tailored to the audience you want to engage in a specific effort: Board members are recruited through a formal process, program volunteers tend to come through word-of-mouth, volunteers are also available through corps or volunteer organizations.
**Side note: The offical CFRE Review Course and CFRE itself is a bit dated when it comes to social media, the internet, and new technology. Although not acknowledged in offical CFRE study guide literature there are lots of ways to recruit volunteers online for both viritual and in-person projects. This test is supposed to be timeless, in doing so it ignores a lot of new technology. Online advocates etc. are a great use of volunteers that go totally unnoticed in the CFRE. There are new solutions to problems that the CFRE test doesn’t know about yet. Keep that in mind when you’re wracking your brain about how your social media strategy fits into all of this. As I said in my post about Taking the CFRE just keep telling yourself to be donor centered and you’ll be fine.
B. Empower and support volunteers by providing orientation, training, and specific job descriptions in order to enhance the volunteers’ effectiveness.
When working with volunteers it is important to make sure that their needs are met, otherwise they may loose interest in the organization. Volunteers lose interest because: - Their contributions aren’t acknowledged. - They don’t have the training or information neccessary to be successful. - Organizations treat volunteers as a means to an end, rather than as individuals. - They aren’t given meaningful work, and don’t feel like they’re making a difference.
Staff obligations to volunteers:
- Empower them
- Lead while appearing to follow
- Provide opportunities for meaningful work
- Disclose appropriate info
- Provide adequate orientation and trainings
- Provide job descriptions
- Conduct performance evaluations
- Give effective feedback
- Explain impact and support their work
- Provide appropriate and frequent recognition, show the impact of their work, get community members to thank them personally.
- Know the nonprofit and philanthropic business as professionals, and provide volunteers the guidance they need to succeed.
Staff expectation of volunteers:
- Complete work
- Access to their network
- Access to information they may have as professionals in a related field
- Insight into their thoughts about the organization and it’s effectivness
- Attendance when requested
- Enthusiasm for the organization and it’s work
- Confidentiality when necessary
Volunteer Training Should Include:
- Introduction into the history of the organization.
- A overview of the mission, vision and purpose of the organization.
- A training in functional areas/facets of the organization e.g. How does the organization accomplish its’ goals, how do the programs make an impact.
- A thorough explanation of the campaign plan and case statement. This is especially true for development volunteers, but training all volunteers on the Case is important since they will be acting as informal ambassadors to the community.
- A description about how volunteer assignments are made, and an explanation about the value of volunteers. It’s also good to let other volunteers know the other kinds of volunteer work going on at the organization, so they can conect with other volunteers, and get engaged in multiple ways if they’re interested.
- A thorough explanation of the tasks to be conducted with specific outcomes and any training neccessary to be successful at those tasks.
Volunteer training is only the first part of the volunteer experience. To properly manage volunteers staff members must provide ongoing feedback, and set benchmarks for success that can be evaluated throughout the process.
- Volunteers want feedback on their performance and they want to give feedback about the organization both of these things should be facilitated as part of the volunteer program.
- Performance evaluation for volunteers demonstrates that the organization is interested volunteers which helps retain them, it also helps develop their skills, one of the key goals of many volunteer.
- Conducting onging evaluation allows an organization to continue to match volunteers to their interest area if this hasn’t been done previously, or if the volunteer is finding that they’re not enjoying the work they’ve been asked to complete.
- Helps to clarifies expectations of both volunteers and the organization. Setting up clear expecations makes for better work, and happier volunteers.
- Identifies areas where assistance or training is needed. Ongoing evaluation allows professional staff the opportunity to intervene to make a volunteers work more effetive, and provide further training.
- Provides encouragement to volunteers. It allows the organization to identify whats working well, and thank the volunteer for their efforts.
- Provides a forum for two-way communication
In addition to ongoing evaluations, volunteers should also provide ongoing recogniition of the volunteers efforts.
Providing Volunteer Recognition:
- Recognition should be proportionate to the amount of level of service
- It should be appropriate to the person and something that he or she is comfortable receiving, and something that will make them excited to continue their service to the organization.
- The organization should be creative and find as many ways as possible to recognize volunteers at events, through publicity or through private congratulations.
- Recognition and acknowledgment of volunteerism is extreamly important. Many people choose to volunteer because of a desire for recognition, we need to provide that recognition in order to keep our volunteers.
C. Engage volunteers in the fundraising process and related activities in order to expand organisational capacity.
Although there are many ways volunteer can provide value to an organiation, one area where volunteer leadership is particularly effective is in the role of fundraising. People give to people and peers give to peers, so creating a network of volunteers who are willing to engage their networks on behalf of the organization is extreamly effective in expanding organizational capacity. Having volunteers involved in development increases the credability of development effortss, and helps strenghten the organizations link to the community, by bringing outside input into the development process.
Volunteer Roles in Fundraising Include:
- Special event chair or committee member
- Development committee member
- Chair of a campaign or drive
- Prospect advisory committee
- Phoneathon/Thankathon volunteer
- Campaign worker
- Host of a fundraising event
- Personal solicitor of peers who are also prospects
Where to look for fundraising volunteers:
- Board of Directors or Trustees
- Campaign feasibility study participants, or focus group participants
- Members of your organization, corporate donors, alumni, friends of organization
- Community leaders
- Consitutents who benefit from organizations programs.
- Volunteers who are working in other parts of the organization who have a positive experience.
- Exisiting donors
- Development committee members
- Professional or service group members
- Event attenddee Virtually anyone who comes in contact with the organization can help volunteer to fundraise for the organization. The main qualfier is a passion for the mission. People are more likely to give to people in their peer group, so identify development volunteers who match the demographic profile of your prospective donors.
D. Participate in recruiting experienced and diverse leadership on boards and/or committees in order to ensure that these groups are representative of, and responsive to, the communities served.
One of the highest levels of volunteer service is Board Governance. The Board of Directors is the legal corporate entity of the nonprofit organization and is morally accountable to the community.
It is the job of the Board to:
- Guarantee faithfulness to the mission ofthe organization
- Set policy, establish direction and set short and long-term goals
- Appoint, support and evaluate the CEO
- Ensure fiscal integrity and financial health
- Oversee operational program
- Represent the org in the community and represent the community in the organization.
- When participaing in a fundraising role they should ideally be both askers and givers.
When recruiting Board Members an organization wants to recruit volunteers that will help the organization connect with the community, and effectively plan for the future. When recruiting board memebers there are a variety of categories to evaluate, from areas of expertise and professional skills, to geographical location, to connection to the community of clients served, to standing and connections within the community as a whole. You want a diverse and representative group of Board Members, who have an ability to listen, analyze, and creatively work with eachother. They must have a willingness to actively participate in governance, and get involoved in the organization.
The CFRE Review Course book’s section on Board Governance is not extreamly extensive, especially given the depth of literature available on the topic. I think this is because very little of the CFRE’s exam content, in my limited experience, has to do with Governance. Some sources they point to are "Governance is Governance" by Kenneth Dayton, and this version super useful Board Profile Worksheet that is originally Adapted from Six Keys to Recruiting, Orienting, and Involving Nonprofit Board Members, by Judith Grummon Nelson, both worth your review. I would also point you to my favorite resource for all things governance Simone Joyaux’s Board Development Learning Center.