The role and responsibilities of the “Volunteer Coordinator” continues to evolve. The evolution has created several variations of roles and responsibilities. There are volunteer coordinators whose only function is to recruit, schedule, and check in volunteers. These volunteer coordinators then hand off volunteers to another staff person for management or direction. A second variation not only handles recruits, schedules, the check in process, but then manages the volunteers to handle smaller tasks not handled by paid staff, mostly likely setup, breakdown, or specific area such as box office, etc.
The last variation tends to be referred to as either Operations Manager or some similar title. Usually the task of volunteer management is added to an event planner or other staff member. These volunteer coordinators directly managing volunteers throughout the entire volunteer experience. No matter the type, volunteer coordinators are taking on more HR functions become the non-paid staff de factor human resource manager. Not only are volunteer coordinators handling all the administrative functions, but also care of volunteers. Volunteer Coordinators issue and collect volunteer waivers, they are responsible for feeding and ensuring volunteers are hydrated….and so much more!
Of course, the whole point of this post, isn’t to talk about the different kinds of volunteer coordinators, but point to the fact that not everyone can be one! Volunteer Coordinators need many different skill sets. Volunteer coordinators need to be organized. They need to know how to schedule shifts to ensure all areas are covered. They have to be resourceful when volunteers do not show up as assigned. Volunteer coordinators need to cheer leaders and sociable. Lastly, they need to know how to communicate with both staff and volunteers. They need to know what is going on!
Many times the roles and responsibilities are given to an event planner or some other staff member and even sometimes to a previous volunteer or intern. The vetting and interview process does not always happen. It is always an afterthought for many. Having the right person as your volunteer coordinator is so much more important than one would think. You have no idea is your volunteers could be your next board member, staff member, and even funder or donor! Volunteer coordinators should have the capacity to inspire, encourage, and motivate volunteers. They need to understand and know how to work with volunteers…..Only by doing so will you have a successful volunteer program.