- They are people just like staff, with similar needs for recognition, acceptance, direction, and usefulness. Treat them like we do paid staff and we should get the same results as from paid staff. (Obviously this will depend on our managerial abilities - good managers get good results. If we are weak in this ability we can improve our "people" training or delegate it to someone who has that skill to a greater degree.)
- Remember that paid staffers are on the job day to day so they automatically know what is happening at work. With a reserve or on-going volunteer program they do not have that constant knowledge and information. A material step is to keep them informed of in-agency affairs and events; use E-mail and provide copies of materials that might be of possible interest to them.
1d: As to what motivates them, their motivation varies:
- Convergent volunteers really want to help, and often they have valuable skills--filling sandbags, driving a tractor or crane (and supplying it)--and when the emergency is over, they want to go home and return to their normal work. It is not that hard to create a plan for their use. It just takes someone interested in doing it and the authority to do so.
- On-going volunteers want to be part of a viable continuing program, trained and ready to be used. They do expect the agency actually to use them. Their motivation is a sense of responsibility to use their skills, talents, and interests as unpaid volunteers because they want to do it, rather than to be paid to do it. They can be as dedicated as any paid staff within the line of their specialization. If we ask them "why" we will get varying "reasons," all of which come back to some inner drive to help without concern for a paycheck. And yes, once in a while you may be able to "hire" (pay) them for a special assignment, but don't assume they will always accept "pay"; some will decline it and do the work anyway. Money is not their purpose; service to something beyond themselves is. It has nothing to do with their being wealthy, but with a view of what they can and want to do. Some of these volunteers may have incomes far less than staff, and others may have incomes several times that of the highest paid staff.
Series continues next bulletin.