Sunday, 17 July 2011

Managing volunteers

Now for something a little more serious. I've been wondering for some time how to apply some of the management techniques used in the commercial world to volunteers.  The problems are the same: how to ensure planned activities are completed successfully without too much hassle; how to ensure people use their skills, contribute to the overall aims of the organisation and are happy in discharging the responsibilities they have taken on. Managing activities is reasonably straightforward: it involves planning all aspects of the activities to an appropriate level of detail communicating the plans to people involved and then following the plans to completion. Of course, it's not quite as simple as that because things change – or go wrong – during the project. But with well thought-through plans, success should follow.

Managing people when they are volunteers is a little more tricky. Employees can usually be expected to do more or less as asked and in general will have been selected because their skills and aspirations match the requirements of the organisation. Volunteers' commitments are often uncertain, as are their pressures and aspirations. There's a risk that if we start asking people how they are getting on, they'll immediately interpret this as interfering bureaucracy or will take it as an opportunity to give up or move on to something different. 

But we're going to give it a try. We're going to start recording and reviewing plans for significant events in Church, ad we're going to meet with volunteers to see how they are getting on with their roles and what extra support would help them. We hope this will enable us to make volunteers' jobs easier. We're also hopeful that we'll be able to gather positive suggestions and ideas and spread these around the group. 
I'll keep you posted.

While looking for something to illustrate this post I came across this:

I hope we can be clearer than this!

Tuesday, 12 July 2011


How's this for an fun at the fete?

A great school fete at Tring. One of the best stalls was the human fruit machine: three big boxes each with a youngster hidden. They had a choice of insects (the theme of the fete). You paid your 10p and they jumped up showing one of their insect pictures. If two were the same, you won a sweet!