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Succeeding as a professional volunteer coordinator requires strong communication skills as well as excellent organizational abilities and other related traits. If you have the qualities it takes to succeed as a volunteer coordinator, you may find working for a nonprofit organization in this capacity to be a rewarding career option.
Successful volunteer coordinators must be strong, positive leaders who approach their position from a servant leadership perspective. They recognize that their role is to serve as a source of encouragement, inspiration and support for volunteers who are sharing their time without being compensated for their efforts.
Being respectful of others is an important key to success in this type of job. Volunteer coordinators must demonstrate respect for their volunteers as individuals, recognizing that the people they are leading do not have to give freely of their time and talents yet have chosen to do so.
Volunteer coordinators need to be assertive, directly asking for assistance as needed. It’s not realistic to expect volunteers to take hints regarding work that needs to be done or to show up just to see if they are needed. Specifically asking for assistance in a clear, direct manner is much more likely to get results.
Volunteer coordinators must be able to get -- and stay -- organized. This includes looking closely a project to determine volunteer staffing needs, identifying potential volunteers, requesting assistance, matching volunteers with tasks appropriate for their skills and interests, establishing schedules, allocating resources and following up on plans.
Volunteer coordinators sometimes must serve as teachers, being proactive in ensuring that volunteer workers are trained properly for the roles they are asked to fulfill. Coordinators must be able to communicate instructions clearly, recognize when volunteers may need additional assistance and serve as coaches and mentors -- without micromanaging -- on an ongoing basis.
It’s essential for volunteer coordinators to remain flexible, realizing that volunteers may sometimes experience conflicts that prevent them from being able to follow through on tasks. Volunteer coordinators must be prepared to deal with such challenges, ensuring the work gets done without doing or saying anything that could damage the relationship between volunteers and the organization.
Volunteer coordinators must be forthcoming in showing appreciation to volunteers, making certain that the individuals who generously contribute their time know that their efforts are valued. They should profusely and sincerely thank volunteers for their efforts and take steps to ensure that volunteer workers receive credit and recognition for their accomplishments as well as the overall success of the projects they work on.
Mary White is professional trainer and human-resources consultant with more than 20 years of experience. She is also the author of two nonfiction books and has worked as a writer since 2007. White holds Master of Arts in communication and certification as a senior professional in human resources.
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