Over the last few decades, the popularity of charitable volunteering has created new job opportunities, including that of the volunteer coordinator.
Volunteer coordinators can function on two levels:
1) Coordinating volunteer activities within the company where they’re employed, which may not necessarily be a not-for-profit organisation. For example, you could be working as a marketing manager in a fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) company, who is also responsible for managing corporate social responsibility and community outreach initiatives. This involves coordinating the activities of other colleagues who volunteer their time and skills for free.
2) Working in the third sector with a charity or non-governmental organisation (NGO), where your core responsibility is to identify, select, train and supervise volunteers.
Volunteer coordinators are typically employed by institutions across all three sectors (private, public and volunteer). If you enter this profession, you might find employment with academic institutions, commercial companies, religious organisations, trusts and foundations operating on a regional, national or international scale, political parties, registered charities, NGOs and cultural institutions.
If you become a volunteer coordinator, your main duties will include the recruitment, training and supervision of new volunteers, in addition to preparing volunteer codes of conduct, operating policies and procedures and managing volunteer performance.
Furthermore, you’ll be responsible for motivating volunteers by implementing promotional awards and incentive schemes. You’ll also be handling volunteering budgets and acting as a liaison between volunteer teams and external agencies, local authorities, corporate sponsors and other relevant partners.
Salary & benefits
Annual salaries for volunteer coordinators in the early stages of their careers range between £19,000 and £30,000 per annum, increasing to between £25,000 and £50,000 once they’ve gained more experience and take on additional financial, administrative and strategic responsibilities.
Salaries for employees working in large charities, educational institutions and corporate firms tend to be higher than those offered by small, independent foundations, NGOs and trusts.
Volunteer coordinators hired for short-term engagements, e.g. election campaigns, cultural events, expositions and other public events, may be paid daily or hourly rates, often with additional reimbursements for expenses incurred on food, travel and temporary accommodation.
As a volunteer coordinator, your job will primarily be office-based, and you’ll be working around eight to ten hours a day. However, around 30% of your time may be spent in travelling to meetings, volunteer events, community projects and offsite programmes.
Employees of international charities and NGOs may also be required to travel when taking part in overseas assignments, including short-term secondments and long-term relocations.
Generally, a degree, diploma or other higher education qualification in any discipline is acceptable. However, you can improve your chances of getting a job by studying subjects such as business studies, management studies, public administration, community development, social care, youth work, social work and international studies.
It’s not vital that you have a degree, but the competitive nature of careers in this area means that doing well academically may give you an edge over other candidates.
Previous volunteering experience is also essential for entry into this profession. If you’re interested in working on overseas projects, proficiency in another language would also be a definite advantage.
Most volunteer coordinators will also need to have a clean and valid driving licence and undergo a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS, formerly CRB [or Criminal Records Bureau]) check, especially if you apply for jobs that involve working with children.
Training & progression
Many major charities and NGOs offer graduate development and internship schemes, which allow you to gain ‘on-the-job’ experience and advance your skills through formal training sessions.
Training and development in smaller organisations tends to revolve around gaining hands-on experience. However, several training institutes offer introductory and advanced courses in volunteering and volunteer management, such as Community Service Volunteers (CSV) and Volunteering England.
Professional networking opportunities are also provided by the Association of Volunteer Managers (AVM).