As anyone working in the non-profit sector knows – volunteers are often the lifeblood of the organisation. According to Volunteering Australia there are currently 6.3 million Australians who are active volunteers and with so many non-profits in the country – 95% of whom rely to a large extent on volunteers – where would we be without them!
Time and again I am impressed by their dedication, willingness to put their hand up to do the most unglamorous of jobs and go beyond the call of duty.
However, from time to time I’ve spoken with non-profit staff who have worked with volunteers and seen the task – to look after the volunteers – as an extra thing ‘to do’.
While sure, there may be times when a volunteer does not have the right intentions – one example comes to mind when it was evident a volunteer wasn’t really there with the intention to help, it was more an opportunity for them to access the internet – there can also be many great experiences with volunteers.
When you have a volunteer you know you can rely on – those days when there are 200 envelopes that need to be stuffed, follow up phone calls need to be made to businesses asking for raffle prizes, posters to be delivered, buckets to be collected – they are worth their weight in gold!
The positive experiences with volunteers always out way the negatives; it can be a win-win for all involved. Whether the volunteer is a young person looking for valuable work experience or a retiree looking to remain actively involved and make a difference in their local community. For the non-profit it can be an event which needs the temporary assistance of a marketing/event coordinator, ongoing administration assistance or long term volunteers who carry out community programs such as Surf Lifesaving or Red Cross Telecross.
So if you’ve heard a few horror stories and have been putting of using volunteers, please think again. Yes, there are sure to be some negative volunteer stories out there, but I know for a fact that they are far and few between, and the benefits of the great volunteers is much more common.
I would love to hear about your experiences, with volunteers at your organisation – but let’s keep it balanced – for every horror story please share a great vollie story too!
And don’t forget to check out the Volunteering Australia website – lots of great ideas and essentials about volunteering.
See you in the pond,
The Fish Chick.