Have a Holly Jolly Volunteer Program

Nothing says “holiday season is here” like a sustainable volunteer program.  Okay, maybe not, but I tried.  As I promised, this week’s post will be about the four strategies Volunteer Maryland recommends for sustaining a volunteer program.  Perhaps you are not at the point of sustainability yet, some nonprofit organizations aren’t.  However, I encourage you to put these strategies on the shelf, so they are available when you need them.  Let’s begin, shall we.

1. Transition to Staff

Transferring the program responsibilities of the Volunteer Maryland Coordinator (VMC) to a staff member or a team of staff members is ideal for some Service Sites this year.  Since the VMC has worked closely with staff throughout the service year, passing the reigns from the VMC to staff might be a “no brainer.”  For other Service Sites, the staff will not be available or willing to take on the leadership role of operating a volunteer program. Bringing in a new person, could be a solution.

2. Cultivate Volunteer Leaders

Training a current volunteer to coordinate specific and define aspects of the volunteer program could be feasible.  Utilizing a current volunteer as a resource of sustainability has been successful for some Service Sites, mainly because this strategy does not create more work for staff.  The VMC  can easily train one lead volunteer or a team of leaders to manage the program.  Volunteers are already aware of how the program flows and can be used to continue that fluidity.  Tap into your volunteer pool!

3. Build Community Partnerships

Formalizing professional relationships outside of “normal” or “typical” partners is essential to the nonprofit sector AND the sustainability of a volunteer program.  Linking up with a community partner who is willing to manage the volunteer program for your site may be a viable option.  Take advantage of your networking opportunities because you never know who may be able to help you down the road.

4. Recruit a New Volunteer Coordinator

A more obvious solution to preparing for the absence of a VMC is to hire a new volunteer coordinator in his/her place.  In today’s economic situation, funds are not always readily available to hire someone  full or part-time, but some Service Sites may have a budget to recruit a new volunteer coordinator.  If you are in the latter category, look into hiring a volunteer coordinator and having the current VMC orient him/her to the logistics of managing the program.

I hope you find these strategies useful.  If you have other ideas, please share.  We love to receive feedback!  Happy sustaining!

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