Is it always right to involve volunteers?
If volunteers are engaged without consideration of their involvement you will find that instead of achieving a 'win- win' relationship you will have a 'lose – lose' situation. Before involving volunteers in an organisation, there needs to be an examination of if and why Volunteers are needed. Such an examination may involve asking and answering the following questions:
- What is the mission and objectives of the organisation?
- Why the organisation wishes to involve volunteers?
- What are the needs of the organisation?
- What will be the role of the volunteer?
- What are the benefits for the volunteers?
- Does the organisation fulfill the needs of potential volunteers?
- Has the organisation the time and resources to train, supervise and support volunteers?
- Will volunteering lead to a positive experience for both volunteers and the organisations?
- Will Volunteers complement the work of paid staff?
- Will there be a means of valuing and acknowledging the contrabution of Volunteers?
- Will Volunteers have a input into the organisation decision-making structures?
If the answers to the above questions are positive then a organisation is ready to consider recruiting and involving volunteers.
There are many positive reasons to involve volunteers, i.e. extend services, to involve the local community, but there also needs to be an awareness of negative reasons i.e. to replace paid staff, because it looks good, because the organisation feels it should. The reasons for involving volunteers need to be positive and in turn drafted into a statement that explains to staff, user group and potential volunteers, why volunteers need to and how they can be positively involved in the organisation. Such a statement will form the basis of a volunteer role description and is essential for the recruitment of volunteers.