Doing things together with others is the core of association activities: the operations of non-profit organisations are based on like-minded individuals working together for a common goal. Value-based work attracts many people to associations’ activities, and active volunteers are often an important part of associations. Volunteer work must be meaningful and rewarding. In addition to promoting feelings of happiness, volunteering can provide useful work experience, expand one’s social network or strengthen professional skills, among other benefits.
A 10-point list for volunteer engagement
- Plan activities together with the volunteers. Share information on the association’s operations, values and objectives.
- Define the volunteer roles and make them appealing to people. People are more likely to want to volunteer when they know what is expected of them and what they gain from being a volunteer. Offer also short-term or one-time opportunities – not everyone can or wants to commit to volunteering for a long period of time.
- Interview your new volunteers. Why do they want to volunteer with you? What do they wish to learn or accomplish? How often are they available to volunteer?
- Organise training for new volunteers.
- If the association has paid employees, define and draw a line between the tasks and roles of volunteers and employees. Volunteers are not meant to do the work of salaried employees.
- Take care of volunteers’ insurance. Common examples include group accident insurance and talkoovakuutus.
- If you wish, you can sign agreements with volunteers. Such agreements are generally non-binding and do not create any obligations to the volunteer. If necessary, however, you can sign confidentiality agreements which can, under certain circumstances, be legally binding.
- Appoint a contact person for volunteers whom they can turn to with questions or issues related to volunteer work.
- You can also create an informal online group or chat for volunteers, for example on Facebook or WhatsApp. However, note that if you are collecting volunteers’ personal information, such as contact information, it forms a personal register. Data protection regulations (opens in new tab) must be taken into account when collecting and storing personal information.
- Support, encourage and thank your volunteers. Gather feedback and develop the activities together with your volunteers.