Our mission is to advance and serve the volunteer resources management profession in the New York City area.
Tip of the Month
When Work Is Not a Job...
Your volunteers may work very hard. In fact, they may have all of the qualities and skills you desire in a colleague! However, it is very important that you and your agency make it clear that their volunteer position is not a “job.”
Most volunteers embrace the role of volunteer and are quite content with the fact that they are not working in a job at your organization, but there are a lot of reasons why you need to be careful about this distinction:
1. You don’t want to create false expectations for volunteers who may be looking for a job or a new professional career;
2. You want to ensure there is no tension between volunteers and staff who may fear that their jobs will be eliminated or subsumed by volunteer labor;
3. You need to honor staff line descriptions and definitions that are part of any union contract your organization has adopted;
4. Some of your volunteers may come to your organization through a corporate, school or government program that is very strict about their volunteer status;
5. Your organization has different legal liabilities attached to staff and volunteers;
6. You don’t want to be “surprised” by an unhappy volunteer who wants to know why they are not getting paid for the same work that a staff person is doing;
7. Clarity about expectations and roles is simply good form!
One of the most direct ways that you can preserve this distinction is by choosing your words carefully. Instead of developing a “job description” or “jd,” you might want to call it a “position description” or “volunteer opportunity.” You might also ask your co-workers to be more aware of the casual over-use of “job” when describing volunteers’ projects and activities.
Ultimately, these distinctions will strengthen your volunteer program. If you’re attentive to the specific niche that your volunteers fill and if you can show how it complements and enhances the work of staff, your program looks stronger to funders, community partners, colleagues and the public.
Sign up for our Principles & Practices course for more great volunteer management tips.
This month, NYAVA wishes to highlight Staci-Jo Bruce, a new member and the recipient of a NYAVA Scholarship to the June 2013 Points of Light conference in Washington D.C. Staci-Jo is currently the Director of Volunteer Services at The Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York (CCANY). She oversees the mobilization, recruitment, and maintenance of the volunteer program for Catholic Charities NY and acts as a resource for over 90 Catholic Charities agencies. asd