Idea 4: Designate a supervisor/coordinator.

Managing volunteers requires a wide range of skills and requires time and effort. One of the standards in the Canadian Code for Volunteer Involvement involves the designation of an individual or individuals to be responsible for supporting volunteer involvement.

This activity should be included in the individual’s job description in recognition of the skills and time that volunteer management requires. The coordinator does not necessarily have to be the supervisor for each volunteer; this is often the role of staff who work with volunteers. But, the coordinator (who might also be the supervisor) is responsible for organizing volunteer management functions including policy development, recruitment planning, volunteer selection, training and orientation, supervision, record keeping, recognition and evaluation.

Voices from the field:

  • If I knew then what I know now: Plan to have more HR devoted to maintaining volunteers.
  • Having a person responsible for volunteer tutors has been key to the success of our adult tutoring program. She coordinates the volunteers in the adult tutoring program. Where we could improve is by extending that sense of belonging and support to volunteers in other programs and literacy initiatives.
  • If there isn’t a supervisor or manager it can be chaotic, frustrating and counterproductive. Lines of communication and decision making process need to be clear. There needs to be a go-to person who represents the best interests of the organization.
  • I think it is important to have one person in charge so that tutors have a person they can contact to talk about their experiences and/or concerns. Sometimes just a phone call or e-mail is all that is needed to help a pair work through a problem or issue that has come up.

To learn more:

Beaudry, J. (2010). Developing job descriptions in Ontario’s community literacy agencies. Retrieved from www.nald.ca/library/research/com_lit_ont/develop_job/develop_job.pdf
» Contains sample job descriptions for volunteer tutor coordinator, volunteer fundraiser coordinator, volunteer special even coordinator.

Brooks, J. (2009). Its own reward: a guide to community-based adult literacy volunteer tutor programs. Vancouver, BC: Literacy BC. Also available at decoda.ca/wp-content/files_flutter/1314749077itsownreward.pdf
» Includes a job description for a volunteer tutor coordinator, and an outline of the responsibilities of a volunteer tutor coordinator.

Brudney, J.L. (2012). Preparing the organization for volunteers. In T. Connors (Ed.), The volunteer management handbook: leadership strategies for success. (2nd ed.) (pp. 55-80). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
»Includes a discussion of the importance of a recognized leader of the volunteer program and the volunteer manager’s role.

Volunteer Canada. (2012). The Canadian code for volunteer involvement: values, guiding principles and standards of practice. Retrieved from volunteer.ca/content/canadian-code-volunteer-involvement-2012-edition
Outlines key roles, responsibilities and accountabilities that can be adapted for any organization.

Last updated: November 12, 2015