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Recruiting Volunteers Part 3: Volunteer Coordinator

“Champion for your Volunteer Program and Chief Recruiter”

By Daniel C. Olsen, Senior Consultant, Special Districts Association of Oregon

Why do you need a Volunteer Coordinator?
You need a Volunteer Coordinator because it takes a well-planned and coordinated effort to bring in quality volunteers.

The Volunteer Coordinator pays attention to what is happening in your community and to your volunteer program. They are a visible representative to the community and listening post for your volunteers.

The Volunteer Coordinator is a champion for your volunteer program. Advocate for the volunteers and your Chief Recruiter.

The role of the Volunteer Coordinator
The Volunteer Coordinator manages your volunteer program. They oversee all four phases of volunteer services from recruitment to training and development to retention to succession planning. They manage the planning process, scheduling, coordination, supervision, and evaluation of the volunteer program.

Depending on the size of your organization, there may be a need for an assistant Volunteer Coordinator.

The desired qualities of a Volunteer Coordinator
A Volunteer Coordinator should possess a number of desired qualities. Those qualities include the following:

  • being personable and communicating effectively with others.
  • represent your organization in a positive and professional manner.
  • be a true believer in the values of volunteerism.
  • genuinely care about the volunteers in your organization.

Leadership skills necessary for a successful Volunteer Coordinator

A successful Volunteer Coordinator should possess and demonstrate leadership skills including:

  • Ability to make decisions, have confidence in their decision, and take responsibility for the results
  • A high degree of integrity. The Volunteer Coordinator must be honest, truthful, and ethical. They must demonstrate a strong set of values which they stand by and demonstrate to others. Their behavior sends a strong message to others.
  • The ability to build a dedicated team of collaborative individuals who are united in achieving the same goals. This includes the ability to understand others, recognize personality styles, and resolve conflicts.
  • Ability to solve problems and bring about resolution.
  • Being dependable and trustworthy.
  • The ability to teach, coach and develop volunteers. They understand differences and demonstrate helpfulness utilizing positive reinforcement.
  • Consistently demonstrate a high degree of integrity. The Volunteer Coordinator must be honest and truthful. They must have a strong set of values which they stand by and demonstrate to others.

There are some wonderful Volunteer Coordinators doing exceptional work. You know who they are.

During my career, I had the good fortune of knowing two individuals I consider the best Volunteer Coordinators I have known. Both men demonstrated these qualities.

Barry Enoch was a retired U.S. Navy veteran. He was a highly decorated veteran and Navy SEAL (SEAL Team 1). He authored a book TEAMMATES-SEALs AT WAR. Upon retirement from the Navy, he joined the fire service (Jackson County (OR) Fire District No. 3) where he served as Volunteer Coordinator and later as Deputy Fire Chief.

Darrell Patterson was a firefighter-paramedic. He started his career in Los Angeles as a Paramedic. He moved to Oregon and was one of the very first licensed Paramedics in the State of Oregon. He was the Volunteer Coordinator at Marion County (OR) Fire District No. 1 and later became Fire Chief for Polk County (OR) Fire District No. 1.

Both of these individuals were exceptional individuals. Outstand Volunteer Coordinators and demonstrated all the skills and traits to be the absolute best I have known.

 The Volunteer Coordinator as your Chief Recruiter
As mentioned in the Recruiting Principle No. 2 “Everyone is a Talent Scout”, referrals of possible volunteers should be made to the Volunteer Coordinator. This also includes inquiries made by interested individuals.

The first contact by the Volunteer Coordinator should be brief (approximately 10 minutes). The purpose is to introduce the Volunteer Coordinator to the interested individual and determine if there is an interest in becoming a volunteer. If there is not a real interest (due to such things as other time commitments, life events which have occurred, etc.) then the person is put onto a list for future contact. This list can be for the purpose of identifying potential supporters or contributors to your organization.

If there is interest in your organization, then a second meeting is scheduled. This meeting should take approximately 30-45 minutes. In the second meeting, the purpose is to find out if this person would be a good fit for your organization. The discussion should include the needs and expectations of both the individual and the organization and their time availability. The outcome is to determine the fit for the individual and the organization.

It is especially important that the Volunteer Coordinator listens to the candidate and asks relevant questions to determine the likelihood of a good fit.

NOTE: The manner of asking candidates to become volunteers will be discussed in an upcoming article.

Key Points

The Volunteer Coordinator plays a vital role in the success of your volunteer program. As the program manager, advocate and chief recruiter, this person oversees the recruitment and retention of volunteers.

To be effective, the Volunteer Coordinator must have behavior, traits, and leadership skills to guide your program and volunteers on a road to success.