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Charity, Not-for-profit & NGO careers

Volunteer Management & Coordination

What do volunteer managers do?

Volunteering can be rewarding, but tough work. That’s why it’s important to have someone leading the way, offering advice and keeping morale high.

After all, where would the world be without its leaders? Where would the USA be without Barack Obama? Where would the A-Team be without John ‘Hannibal’ Smith? And where on earth would Take That be without Gazza Barlow?

Volunteer managers and coordinators are there to make sure voluntary charity work runs smoothly and goes according to plan.

Why is volunteer management & coordination important?

Volunteers are essential to the success of charity work. However, voluntary schemes would be far less effective if the unpaid helpers were sent off without any kind of coordination or managerial direction.

People would be wandering around the streets aimlessly holding clipboards, four different people would be helping the same old lady go to the toilet and environmental conservation volunteers would have no idea how to conduct important research; they would simply be stroking cheetahs or only counting the prettiest fish.

Volunteer managers and coordinators lead the line. They make sure volunteers know exactly what they are doing and how they are supposed to do it. They also help volunteers to understand the importance of their actions and motivate them to get stuck in and help out the charity in the best possible way that they can.

Volunteer managers and coordinators may manage volunteers, but they are not volunteers themselves. These guys work permanently for charities and get paid an actual salary.

What can I do in this field?

If you pursue a career in this area, you could be working for all kinds of different organisations, including cancer, environmental, homeless and children’s charities. Furthermore, you could be leading volunteers in the UK or across the other side of the world as part of international volunteering schemes.

First and foremost, you will be responsible for recruiting plucky and enthusiastic volunteers. You will be using all kinds of marketing and publicity methods to raise the profile of the volunteering scheme and encourage the right kind of people to get involved.

For instance, you might be using social media tools, implementing multimedia advertising campaigns or approaching people directly and giving talks or presentations at various institutions.

Although volunteers are unpaid employees, they still need to be trained properly in order to be effective. You will be responsible for leading training programmes and offering continual advice and guidance to volunteers throughout their time with your organisation.

You will be coordinating volunteer activities and managing volunteers, but it’s unlikely that you will be doing this from the comfort of your ivory tower. It’s highly likely that you will be delegating tasks and supporting volunteers out in the field. You will be working closely with your volunteers and building working relationships with them. This is the best way to motivate them and make sure that activities are carried out in the most effective manner.

You will need to be an inspirational figure and constantly be motivating your volunteers. When it comes down to it, people will be working for free and may need a gentle bit of persuasion from time to time. You’ll be helping people to understand the goals of the charity and the valuable part that they are playing in the system.  

You might also be in charge of budgets and resources. Furthermore, you will be constantly liaising with internal management and external clients to optimise the efficacy of the volunteering activities, making sure that all of the voluntary work meets the demands and objectives of the charity.

There are no specific academic requirements for entry into these careers. However, it will certainly be helpful if you have a strong background of volunteering yourself and have plenty of work experience within charitable organisations.

So, if you think you have the ability to manage and coordinate a crazed horde of desperate do-gooders, then a career in volunteer management and coordination is certainly the one for you!

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