Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia

YOU, working with volunteers

In Volunteers on August 12, 2014 at 2:55 pm

You, the Fundraiser_volunteerpicPhoto Source

Like most not-for-profit organizations, the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia relies heavily on our many dedicated volunteers. Because they so generously donate their time to our cause, we are able to provide support to Nova Scotians living with dementia.

Since they are so critical to our success, we want to make sure our volunteers are having a great experience working with us. A couple months ago we decided to take the opportunity to review our existing volunteer program and see where we could make improvements.

The review was definitely eye opening, and we saw many areas where changes could be made to make our program better. The next step was to create a volunteer engagement plan, and pilot a few key areas.

1. Working with volunteers.
In the past, the main contact for our volunteers was the Coordinator of Volunteer Resources (me). Volunteers would come directly to me when they arrived in the office, and I would show them what they would be working on. As a result, there was not much contact between the rest of the staff members and our volunteers.

When we reviewed this, it made more sense to give all of the staff the opportunity to work with our volunteers. Now, when volunteers are needed they are still booked through me, but on the day they arrive, the staff member they are working with will greet them, show them their task for the day and check in on them regularly. This provides a great way for staff and volunteers to connect on a more regular basis.

2. Getting to know one another.
It is not unusual to have staff members, volunteers, co-op students and visitors in the office all at the same time, which can lead to some confusion about who is who. Our solution was to make staff and volunteers easy to locate and identify. We created name tags for our volunteers to wear, and staff have their name and title posted outside their office door.

3. Celebrating all the work volunteers do.
When volunteers arrive for their shift, we ask them to sign in, and write down what they’ll be working on. We do this so we can share with board members, stakeholders and potential funders just how much time volunteers donate to the Society. This number speaks volumes about how dedicated our volunteers are to our cause.

We are still in the early stages of piloting these key areas, but so far it seems to be going well. Our staff members and volunteers seem to enjoy getting to know each other better, and it has led to a more efficient and effective volunteer program with happier volunteers. Our next step will be to roll out additional areas from our volunteer engagement plan.

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