Three Tips for Managing Your Interns & Skilled Volunteers
This is the second in a series of posts written for Idealware by the staff of VolunteerMatch. This one comes from Communications and Social Media Intern Stephanie Rosenburg.
Skilled volunteers let your organization get high-level work such as social media and web design done, which would otherwise cost you lots of time and money. These experienced workers operate on passion and a love for your cause. How can you manage these volunteers in a way that will also keep them committed and engaged?
Volunteering as a Communications & Social Media Intern with VolunteerMatch, I've learned first-hand just how important good management really is to keep skilled volunteers like myself engaged. In my experience, this type of volunteering requires a higher level and more involved style of directing than other volunteer work I've done.
Here are a few tips based on what I've learned as a skilled volunteer working for the Communications team at VolunteerMatch:
1. Make Them a Part of the Team
The Communications team at VolunteerMatch has a weekly internal meeting that even we interns are involved in. We go around the room and talk about what we've completed from the week before and what we're working on for the next week. Everyone gives feedback, helps problem-solve and gets excited about each other’s projects.
It's been great working with such a cohesive group of people. Even though I'm only a volunteer, I've felt like part of the team because I know what's going on in the department as a whole and I've been included in a lot of the decision-making.
Follow up often with your volunteers, check in and make sure they've got what they need and are on top of all their tasks. This helps you understand where they are on important projects, but it also keeps them engaged with your organization and makes them feel involved.
2. Let Them Do What They Do Best
I was surprised how much free range I've been given at VolunteerMatch. They've assigned me a number of blog articles, social media campaigns and other projects, but have really encouraged me to make these things my own. I've had the chance to write articles about things I love, develop Facebook contests, and even use my graphic design skills to create an awesome infographic.
Since I've been at VolunteerMatch, I've really had the chance to experiment and develop my skills. This has also been great for them, because not only have I enjoyed the role, but I've also brought a lot of new ideas and projects to the mix.
Keep the “skilled” part of a skilled volunteer's work in mind. You've brought them in to complete a special project because they are good at what they do. Every skilled volunteer brings their own unique experience and perspective into your organization, so take advantage of this. Give them the room to work, be open to their suggestions and appreciative. You'll find they can get much more done if they have the space and encouragement to do it.
3. Get Them Away From the Computer Occasionally
I came to VolunteerMatch expecting to sit in front of my computer for 20 hours a week. However, it’s been a pleasant surprise be taken out to lunch, invited to sit in on meetings, included in birthday parties, and encouraged to attend events outside of work. Even though most of my time is spent in the office, it's the most fun working environment I've been in because there’s variety, too.
Skilled volunteers take what they do for their job and apply it to your cause because it's something they really care about. Keep their interest and passion alive by getting them involved with some of the things your organization is doing. Make them feel like a part of your organization by taking them to lunch, or inviting them to meetings and events.
What are some of the other ways that you can manage your skilled volunteers in a way that engages them and respects their unique skills and experiences?
Stephanie Rosenburg is a Communications & Social Media Intern at VolunteerMatch. She’s brought her passion and experience to the organization through her role as a skilled volunteer, working closely with the Online Communications team. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her at @smrosenburg.