This week I got into an interesting conversation on Facebook that I feel compelled to share; In 10 hours, I had over 20 people asking for more information… so I am going to guess there are others out there wondering the same thing. The question was “What kind of support/training/info do you offer for staff members who work with volunteers?”
For me that starts with onboarding!
Whether the person is new to the organization, just received a promotion, or is in an unpaid volunteer role, once they become a supervisor of volunteers they should be trained. A few of the benefits of providing a Volunteer Supervision Onboarding are:
- A Streamlined Volunteer Management Process.
- Clearly defined roles for the Supervisor and Volunteer Services (VS) staff.
- Quality experience for all volunteers serving your organization.
- Displaying your leadership skills to the Organizations’ Executive team.
- Elevating the profession of Volunteer Engagement.
Now lets get to the good stuff, the process and resources!
My rule of thumb is to schedule an onboarding two to four weeks after they start, this gives the person time to get acquainted with their new role but not long enough that they are making any changes or providing direction yet. I find value in doing these onboardings personally but anyone on the VS team can lead them. I would encourage you to have them one-on-one setting either in person or virtually. In a one-on-one setting you can provide relevant examples and discuss their actual volunteers which takes the onboarding from hypothetical to practical. Depending on the size of their volunteer team, these onboardings can take anywhere from an hour to two.
Provided below are the two resources I use in every onboarding, and supplement with additional information as needed. Things you can add are: your volunteer handbook, relevant volunteer position descriptions, a copy of your most recent needs assessment, etc. The options are endless but treat this as a Volunteer Management 101 course, try not to lose them.
I added this access agreement to my process only three years ago and I wish I had done it sooner! This form was well received by leadership and added accountability that we did not have before. I would encourage you to download the template and try it out at your organization as well!
I hope these resources can help you create or update an onboarding plan at your organization for anyone who supervises volunteers. The one objection I have heard is the amount of time it takes to sit down for a one-on-one with every new staff, which I will always push back on. It is less time and work to have someone trained correctly right away than have to go back to correct errors/bad habits.
Thanks for your time!