How to Build a Successful Volunteer Program

May 7, 2019


A n effective volunteer engagement program must be approached from the perspectives of the organization, the population served, and the volunteer. Moving from the outward interests of these constituents and focusing in on the overlap of needs can create the perfect volunteer position—one that serves the organization and the community as well as the volunteer.

The most successful volunteer programs adopt service as a value throughout the organization, truly breeding a culture of volunteerism. To be transformative, successful volunteer management programs must be elevated and prioritized as critical to meeting the overall mission and vision of the organization. Cities or counties that are not at this level yet should start small and develop relevant volunteer projects that add value to the bottom line. A program that begins slowly can ultimately be built into an
infrastructure for maximum effectiveness. The ultimate goal of the volunteer coordinator or manager is to create a strategy for volunteer efforts and find staff or resources to run the volunteer program over time.
The following sections in this ICMA publication outline how to develop a culture of volunteerism within your organization and community:
  • Expectations of volunteers
  • Measuring volunteer impact
  • Using citizen input
  • Recruiting volunteers
  • A 10-step checklist for building a successful volunteer program
  • Conducting a community needs assessment
  • Strategies and tactics to ensure long-term success of a volunteer program.

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