6 tasks for improved volunteer-staff relationships

Although everyone in the nonprofit sector pays lip service to good working relationships, not everyone acts on those words, and that can be especially true for relationships between paid staff and volunteers.

Speaking during the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) International Conference on Fundraising, James Johnson and Mark Moshier of the Boy Scouts of America said that the greatest single achievement for paid staff (professionals) is the effective involvement of volunteers in carrying out mission.

Johnson and Moshier said that good volunteer-professional relationships are characterized by mutual trust, mutual respect and mutual recognition of each other’s role and competency. Each understands what the other brings to the table, they seek each other’s counsel and they enjoy each other’s company. They said further that there are six major tasks for professionals to ensure volunteer success within any organization:

  • Define responsibilities;
  • Select and recruit;
  • Orient and train;
  • Coach volunteers;
  • Recognize achievement; and,
  • Evaluate performance.

Further, Johnson and Mosier offered the following tips regarding volunteers:

Intentionally begin to build a relationship with each volunteer from your very first visit. Be accessible. Remember that names are important. Make efficient use of volunteers’ time. Understand that the further up the corporate ladder volunteers go the more they expect. And, project a clean and orderly appearance.