Monday, September 10, 2007

The secret to using and keeping volunteers

Many programs find it necessary to use volunteers in order to get work completed. I often speak out against using volunteers because I know that volunteers may not have the correct knowledge or work ethic for the job, although they are often enthusiastic. Yet I've seen volunteers be very effective in digitization programs when they did have the correct skills.

The Nature Conservancy is an organization that relies heavily on its volunteers. Gleaned from is Autumn 2007 magazine (p. 62) are these ideas for keeping and using knowledgeable volunteers:
  • Make them responsible for specific tasks.
  • Give them some authority, if they have the correct knowledge to make good decisions.
  • Help them fall in love with what they do. If they love what they do, they do it well and for a long time.
The Nature Conservancy has found that these three ideas help them keep volunteers for many years. If it works for them, it should work for us when we need volunteers to pitch in and help.

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