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How Do I Become a Volunteer Coordinator?

A volunteer coordinator may be responsible for collecting canned food donations.
Volunteer coordinators must be good at planning activities, such as food drives.
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  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 27 August 2014
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There are four items required to become a volunteer coordinator: criminal records check, related training, volunteering experience, and leadership skills. A volunteer coordinator is someone who is responsible for recruiting, training, and organizing a group of volunteers on behalf of a larger organization. This position is often paid, though most people do this type of work out of a desire to improve the community, rather than as a career. The pay is minimal when compared to the number of hours required in this position.

The most important skill necessary to become a volunteer coordinator is communication. The ability to provide instructions and guidance to a wide range of people is essential. In a volunteer organization, people are giving their free time to support a cause they believe in. Through effective communication, the coordinator can rally the team of volunteers to complete a wide range of necessary tasks quickly and efficiently. Keeping the mood upbeat and the activities enjoyable will keep volunteers returning, which is essential to the long-term success of the charity or cause.

All charitable and educational institutions will require a criminal background check for anyone who wants to become a volunteer coordinator. The organization has a legal obligation to ensure that it is not providing an opportunity for criminals to gain access to people in need of help or support. It is important to note that this type of check is designed to identify people who have been convicted of a criminal offense.

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Training that will be helpful if you want to become a volunteer coordinator includes making presentations, business plan development, conflict resolution, and project planning. Many people interested in this role have completed a degree or diploma from an accredited school. The ability to take a concept and lead a team of volunteers to successful completion of the project is central to this role.

Volunteering experience is absolutely essential for anyone who wants to become a volunteer coordinator. It is often through these experiences that we learn the traits of successful and unsuccessful coordinators or leaders. Volunteering experience provides the background necessary to relate to the challenges of the individual volunteers, and can be very helpful.

Leadership skills includes conflict resolution, team building, identifying bottlenecks, and creating solutions to problems. Many people use volunteering as a way to build these skills, and often learn about their own strengths and weaknesses through this process. The skills and knowledge gained here can then be applied in other aspects of your life.

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sweetPeas
Post 7

@PinkLady4 - I, too, have had good experiences working with volunteer coordinators. The one problem that I have seen is when a volunteer tries to override the volunteer coordinator. A suggestion is one thing, but challenging the coordinator is another.

I have volunteered quite a bit in elementary schools. They were very well run schools. The volunteer coordinator worked closely with the teachers and the principals to make sure everyone was on the same page.

Messages to volunteers were very clear and were usually sent by email. A schedule was set up and if someone was going to be absent, they called their own substitute. The whole system worked quite well for such a big volunteer program.

PinkLady4
Post 6

I have never wanted to take on the job of volunteer coordinator. So many volunteers have good intentions, but call at the last minute with regrets or just don't show up. Of course, there are many reliable volunteers also.

But a volunteer coordinator has a big responsibility to make sure criminal background checks are done and to provide training and supervision for volunteers.

I have been a volunteer myself and for the most part, I have been satisfied by the way the volunteer coordinator leads. One place was in a kind of foster home, where drug-affected newborns needed to be cared for in special ways. We were trained well and made a commitment to help on a regular basis.

snickerish
Post 5

I can tell from the comments that this is not typically a problem that is encountered but rather the opposite of what usually happens in a volunteer coordinator's world, but I have seen it happen twice now so I still think it can be good advice...

My advice is - make sure there is enough work to do for volunteers! And if there isn't, check with the volunteers to see if they want to go home. Typically the volunteers do care about the event and organization they are volunteering for, but they end up understanding how sometimes there is less work than was anticipated.

I have volunteered before, where my time was not used well, and although I cared about the event and organization I did not appreciate volunteering to not truly be of use.

I am not saying the job must be a "nose to the grindstone" job to make me feel fulfilled, I just mean in a logistical sense of the duties. If it seems two people can easily take the tickets for the event, then find out if someone wants to go home or find another job for them.

This way they feel the volunteer coordinator is paying attention and is thoughtful as opposed to just having three people to have three people, which will make you less likely to volunteer again!

John57
Post 4

My kids were active in local theater, and at one point I was on staff as a volunteer coordinator. This was a big job to keep everything running smoothly.

I think one of the most frustrating things was the level of commitment that some volunteers had. I realize they were volunteering their time and services, but some of them were not good about communication.

When you are counting on volunteers to make sure the production runs smoothly and they don't bother letting you know they can't be there for some reason, that can really make a coordinators job challenging.

Even though you try to have substitutes lined up, that is not always easy to do at the last minute.

Mykol
Post 3

Being a volunteer coordinator is a big responsibility no matter how many volunteers you have.

Performing background checks and making sure that the volunteers meet your qualifications is the first step. Once that is done, there is a lot of administrative work and organization that is involved.

I work as a volunteer for a teens at risk program and every volunteer had to have a background check and at least two references.

There are also times when we are giving the kids rides, so they had to look at our driving record and we had to give them copies of our drivers license and current insurance.

Most people understand why these precautions are necessary and don't have a problem with it. I would be surprised if these kind of steps weren't taken.

Sunny27
Post 2

@Bhutan - Unfortunately things like that do happen because not everyone has the same level of commitment.

My favorite thing about being a volunteer coordinator was working on the speaker’s bureau. This was a job that allowed me to do public speaking engagements with many organizations to spread the word about the charity.

At first I was terrified to speak in front of so many people, but what kept me going was the fact that I was helping children have a better quality of life. It was an amazing experience that I definitely recommend people doing if they have some extra time.

I guarantee that you will get a lot more back from the experience that you could ever have imagined.

Bhutan
Post 1

I was a volunteer coordinator for a few organizations when I was single. It was a lot of fun and really rewarding. My position was not a paid one but most of the people involved in the various organizations that I was involved with were professionals that wanted to give back to the community.

I know that there are some nonprofits that do pay people in these positions, but the positions that I was involved with were strictly voluntary.

The one thing that I have to say about a position like this is that you have to follow up with volunteers even up to the day before an event is to take place to make sure that they will still go through with the volunteer project.

Sometimes people get excited about the idea of volunteering and then forget that there is a commitment attached to it. When someone says that they are going to attend a charity event everyone is counting on the person being there.

Sometimes we had no shows and we would have to step in and find additional volunteers at the last minute. This didn’t happen too often but it was pretty stressful when it did.

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