Encouraging staff to support volunteer involvement

How we can support staff that may not be very confident about the how’s or why’s of volunteer involvement. Below will address some of the issues and offer some solutions 

Difficulties can arise when staff are not as supportive of volunteers as they could be:

  • Misunderstanding of the volunteers roles/tasks
  • Worry about the time needed to recruit volunteers
  • Worry about the time to show them how to do something – ‘it’s quicker if I do it myself’
  • Staff ownership of job/task – hard to let anyone else in
  • Not including volunteers in meetings, training, communications etc
  • Not regarding them as equals
  • Rigid about how volunteers will be involved
  • Unrealistic expectations/demands
  • Being unhelpful about practical arrangements
  • Not preparing for volunteers to come in
  • Putting up resistance, pro-castigating about getting volunteers involved

Why might staff act like this:

  • Suspicious of motivation, why would someone do this for free?
  • No experience of volunteering
  • Poor experience of volunteer involvement where bad management has led to difficulties
  • Lack of knowledge about what volunteering is and is not
  • Worried about job replacement
  • Not clear about why the organisation makes an effort to involve volunteers
  • Not clear about the added benefits volunteers bring

What can you put in place to encourage staff to support volunteers?

  • Enable staff and volunteers to meet informally, invite staff to volunteer meetings, lunches etc
  • Clear statement about why volunteers are involved that is shared with staff regularly
  • Regular discussions at staff meetings about your volunteers, the value they are adding and any development ideas
  • Have a system for sharing feedback from service users about how volunteers have made a difference
  • Put support for volunteers in staff contracts or Job Descriptions
  • Provide an opportunity for staff to talk specifically about their support of volunteer involvement during staff appraisals
  • Clear volunteer role descriptions that are shared with staff
  • Budget allocated for volunteer costs
  • Include information about volunteer involvement in staff induction materials
  • Share success stories, volunteer awards and achievements
  • Share good practice between projects
  • Share information such as hours done, meetings held, money raised
  • Build confidence in the volunteer management processes, explain how the process works

Which of these ideas could be developed in your organisation?

A good resource to help you plan how to share the positive message of volunteering within your own organisation is the Influencing Up Volunteer England document


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