A team of terrific volunteers are often the unsung heroes in a parks and recreation organization. While your parks and rec staff are the people who put together programming and events, volunteers help your staff bring their vision to life. Here’s how to develop an effective volunteer program for your organization.
Identify Your Needs
First, identify exactly what your needs are and where opportunities for volunteerism lie. What parts of the organization would grow with thanks to volunteer hours? How many volunteers do you need? Will your volunteers be required to speak another language? Will recruitment require a budget and will your current operating expenses allow for it? Determining how volunteers can play a meaningful role in your parks and rec organization will greatly increase your chances of finding the right people for your volunteer program.
Don’t forget to match your volunteer needs with what your community would benefit from. This may be something you can add to your member satisfaction surveys, in order to get a stronger sense of what will make the largest impact.
Create a Volunteer Handbook
Having a document that outlines everything – from whether your volunteers need insurance or not, to the dress code – will vastly reduce confusion and extra work, for when you finally acquire your volunteers. Any sort of policy or rule that you create will help govern all volunteer activities and behavior. The clearer you can be within your volunteer management handbook, the easier it’ll be to lead your volunteers.
Plan Your Recruitment
Defining recruitment strategies, timelines, and overall costs for attracting volunteers to your parks and rec organization is perhaps the most challenging stage of the process. Depending on the type of program you’re seeking volunteers for, you’ll need either generalists or volunteers with a specific set of skills. Correspondingly, this will inform your recruitment and marketing strategies to attract qualified volunteers.
You’ll also need to consider the interview and onboarding process for your volunteer recruitment, and factor in the timeline for conducting background checks. Even though they’re volunteers, it’s important to treat them as you would your staff since they’ll be representing your organization.
Train, Train, Train
Orientation and training are central components of your volunteer program. Outline your expectations for the volunteer roles, introduce them to your organization, and demonstrate to your volunteers that you’re on the same team. Creating and executing a structured, positive training course will help you produce great volunteers and community ambassadors.
Volunteers are giving up their precious time, so it is imperative that you consistently show your appreciation for their sacrifices. If a volunteer is making a difference at your organization, it’s in your best interest to keep them motivated and retain them. A reward or recognition program is valuable for thanking and incentivizing volunteers, and can be as simple as a monthly gift card for your best volunteer or an annual dinner to thank all volunteers for their hard work.
Once your volunteer program is in place, let PerfectMind’s parks and recreation management software help you manage all aspects of your facility’s operations, marketing, and financing. By reducing time spent on back-office functions, supervisors, staff, and volunteers can focus on creating an exceptional experience for your community. Learn more about PerfectMind’s parks and recreation software here.