So, what types of skills should you be looking for in your volunteers? And how on earth are you supposed to keep track of which volunteers bring which attributes? Does it even matter? We’re going to answer all these questions — and more!
What Skills Should You Look For In Your Volunteers?
Reliability. You want volunteers who will show up when they’re supposed to — for training as well as on their volunteer days — and do what they’re tasked to do.
Passion. Sure, some people only volunteer to log required volunteer hours for school and/or work and not because they truly want to help. But, whatever the reason, they’ll often still take pride in their work and do a fantastic job. You can usually tell who will get on board and who won’t reasonably early on. Look for applicants who share the same values as your organization and will bring value to your event or project.
Fast Learners. You should be offering some training to new volunteers about your organization and the role they’re expected to play when volunteering. You’re likely very short on time and want people who will pick up on things quickly.
Team Players. Volunteering can often require you to work closely as a team with the staff and other volunteers. Someone who doesn’t take orders well, has a bad attitude, or isn’t willing to help others out won’t be beneficial to your event and will almost certainly create problems.
Adaptability. Even when volunteer opportunities are planned well, there’s always a chance that things will go wrong. The location may not be ready, other volunteers may be sick, or the weather may pose a problem. Whatever happens, your volunteers should be adaptable to take on another role and help out where they can.
What Else Should You Know About Your Volunteers?
Ask your volunteers if they have previous volunteer experiences, education, special training, or life skills that would make them an asset to your particular organization. Make a note of who has these special skills and keep these in mind when planning specific events — and who gets a role in each one. Once a volunteer gains experience or training through one of your events, you should add that to their list of skills, so you can place volunteers into positions they’re experienced in and love doing.
Why Should You Continually Be Improving the Skills of Your Volunteers?
It’s likely that through each opportunity your volunteers will gain useful knowledge and experience that will help them in the future. You should recognize this and continually give them positions where they can utilize and challenge these skills. Rotating your volunteers into a few different positions will also help them to gain more skills and may lead to an even better alignment within your organization.
If you have some genuinely devoted volunteers committed to helping, consider assisting them in getting further education through a school program, online course, or another method of learning. This will help them feel appreciated, and their new knowledge will help advance them to be an even bigger asset.
Why Should You Keep Track of Your Volunteers Skills and Experiences?
You want to keep track of the skills, experiences, and knowledge each volunteer has for a variety of reasons:
So You Know Where to Schedule Them. If you know what skills you need and can quickly look them up in a database, you’ll be able to filter which volunteers will fit in particular positions best.
To Make Them Feel Appreciated. Volunteers feel like they’re an essential part of your community when you recognize what they can bring to your event or organization. It’s not only wise to use their skills effectively — but volunteers feel seen, too.
To Give Out References. Often, people volunteer to gain new skills and experience in different areas. Knowing what skills and experiences your volunteers have gained allows you to easily view what these are if you’re asked to provide a letter of reference.
How Do You Keep Track of Each Volunteer, Their Skills, and Their Experience?
If you’re planning to offer many volunteer opportunities and have a large roster of volunteers, it can be difficult to keep track of who has what skills — especially as they log more time and gain more experience. But even if you have only a small number of volunteers, tracking skills and experience are essential.
Keeping track of your volunteers can be done in various ways, and it’s easier than you think. Here’s how you can start now:
Spreadsheets. Creating spreadsheets outlining each of your volunteers and all their information is easy to set up and edit. However, the more volunteers you have and the more skills they acquire, the harder it becomes to track it using spreadsheets.
Use Volunteer Management Software. Having all the information you need to manage your volunteers, their hours worked, and who is scheduled for each event in one place is the best way to keep track of everything. Plus, others within the organization can log in to view what’s going on, your volunteers can schedule their hours or log their own information, and everyone can communicate with each other.
Volunteer management software makes it easier for everyone involved. It shaves time off of your job so you can concentrate more on your mission and building up your volunteers’ skills, and it makes your volunteers feel connected, having such an easy way to communicate.
At Timecounts, we offer you this software and ways to customize it to make it work exactly the way your organization wants it to. Keeping track of your volunteers with one easy database is volunteer recruitment and retainment dream! It’s a simpler way to manage a full roster and makes volunteers happier to know that their experience and knowledge are being used efficiently to place them in roles suited to their skills. Timecounts has a library of skills and attributes that can be validated for volunteers. It’s an effective way to get them to come back! Get started with Timecounts for free today to see how our software can elevate your volunteer management.