Archive for January, 2012

Watch Out For Signs Of Volunteer Burnout

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

volunteer background checkIf you’re like most non profit organizations, you have all kinds of volunteers: enthusiastic and boisterous, or quietly committed. You have volunteers who are good at one thing and those who are good at many things. And you probably have some who don’t know their limits.

Before you lose valuable volunteers to burnout, it’s a good idea to become familiar with the signs of volunteer burnout—and how to prevent it.

  1. Volunteers are not happy. Check in often to make sure your volunteers are still enjoying their work. Remember, they’re not getting paid, so satisfaction is important to keep volunteers engaged. If they’re not having fun, it may be time for a break.
  2. Your volunteers are worried about getting their work done or missing deadlines. Pressure is not good for anyone. If your volunteers are stressed out about their workload, you could lose them fast. Find ways to spread out the work.
  3. Your volunteers are irritable with fellow volunteers, or even worse—with clients. This is a sure sign of burnout, and it can have serious consequences. Any volunteer who is resentful of staff, clients and fellow volunteers to the point of becoming bad-tempered is in need of a talking to. Find out what’s bothering him or her, and offer a new position or leave of absence.
  4. The laughter and positive atmosphere has disappeared. Listen to your volunteers as they work and interact with each other. Do you hear laughter and light conversation? Or do you hear snapping, heavy sighs or nothing at all?

Usually, the best volunteers, whose dedication and work ethic leads them to overdo it, are more susceptible to burnout. Keep the lines of communication open and check in often with all of your volunteers. Insist on a break for those who have been working too much or are starting to show signs of wear. And remember to show your appreciation often. Sometimes, a “thank you” is all a volunteer needs to hear to replenishment their motivation.

How to Get Your Volunteers on Board

Friday, January 20th, 2012

prescreening volunteers, volunteer background checkYou’ve successfully recruited and brought on some new volunteers for your nonprofit organization. Before you put them right to work, take some time to bring them up to speed. They’ll be happier – and so will you. And they might even stick around longer, too.

No matter what position you put your new volunteer in, you can’t assume they know how to do the work you expect from them. Other new volunteers come into a non-profit with great enthusiasm and ideas, and anxious to do a good job. Without clear direction, they may start making improvements or changes without understanding the organization. Both of these situations can lead to conflict.

A better approach is to invest some time to help new volunteers get off to a good start. Allow them to get to know your organization, meet paid and volunteer staff, ask questions and shadow other workers to see how things are done. Encourage them to observe the culture.

  • While you’re working with new volunteers, make sure they hear about the “unwritten rules.” If whoever takes the last cup of coffee is supposed to make another pot, be sure they know that. If everyone brings in snacks on board meeting day, pass that along, as well as rules covering perfume, parking, and other etiquette issues.
  • Designate a mentor for each new volunteer—someone they can go to when they have question or problems. Between yourself and the mentor, demonstrate what success at your organization looks like, so the new volunteer knows has a clear picture to work toward.
  • Let your new volunteers take their time becoming oriented and integrating into your non-profit. Schedule a weekly 10-minute meeting for the first month, to check in and make sure they feel comfortable.

Putting in some extra time up front with your volunteers will pay off in higher productivity, less turnover, better morale and easier volunteer recruiting.

Count on for your volunteer prescreening services. Protect your staff, clients, and your community with volunteer background checks.