Some organisations will have just one core volunteer program. Others may have many different programs. Either way, a strong and effective volunteer program needs to be realistic, viable and reflect the overall volunteering principles of your organisation.
Take a step back to research, plan and design your program before you launch straight into implementing it. This will help to maximise its overall success.
Jumping straight into volunteer recruitment without planning is a risky way to start a volunteer program and could lead to disappointment.
An unplanned program may end up without a direction or purpose. It might not have the support of key people in your organisation. It could result in too many, not enough or the wrong types of volunteers. Or a program might fail because it didn't match the needs of volunteers, customers or other stakeholders.
A little bit of planning avoids these kinds of scenarios and help to clarify things like:
- If there is a need for your program
- How it aligns with the goals of your organisation and its volunteering framework
- What the program will achieve
- How the program and its services will operate
- What volunteers will do (and when and how they will do it)
- What sort of volunteers are needed (and how many and how often)
- How to deliver the program
- How you know if you achieve your program's objectives
- Other factors such as managing risks, designing roles that are flexible, inclusive and add value, special requirements for recruitment.
What does planning involve?
Planning doesn't have to be a long or complicated process but it will save a lot of wasted time and energy in the long run.
Try and talk to everyone who will be involved in your volunteer program during the planning process, including management, staff, existing volunteers, clients, suppliers and other relevant organisations. Their views will help shape the program, identify issues or risks and make sure that everyone feels a sense of ownership.
You might find that you shape a volunteer program that is quite different from what you initially imagined.
Typically, the tasks involved in planning a volunteer program are: