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Volunteers with valuable and specialized skills are often dispatched
to do manual labor rather than tasks that use their professional
talents. When a volunteer provides a service that is outside of their
core skill set, they often don’t get much out of the experience. Many
of these volunteers get an empty feeling when they know that the job
they’ve been given is make-work or a photo-op.
Despite the fact that a volunteer may have a certain skill-set, it
may not be the skill they want to provide in a volunteer capacity. For
example, you may have a volunteer that has excellent phone skills
because he works as a telemarketer. However, being that he is on the
phone all day in his professional capacity, he may not want to work on a
phone campaign for your annual appeal.
Allowing volunteers access to online volunteer coordination software
where they may self-identify skills and interests, and even allowing
them to assign themselves to specific volunteer opportunities improves
the volunteer’s experience and effectiveness. If the responsibility for
coordinating volunteers falls on your shoulders, matching the right people with the right needs is a major key to successful volunteer management.
For more about volunteer management software, visit TechSoup's VolunteerMatters page.
"Volunteers with valuable and specialized skills are often dispatched to do manual labor rather than tasks that use their professional talents. When a volunteer provides a service that is outside of their core skill set, they often don’t get much out of the experience." That can be the case... but a lot of volunteers actually want opportunities that don't have to do with their professional talents. People volunteer for different reasons. Some actually want to do manual labor that has nothing to do with their day job. I've had many volunteers say to me, "I don't want to do such-and-such - that's what I do for a living. I want to do something entirely different."
Creating opportunities for volunteers who want to apply work or school skills is great. But also creating opportunities for people to volunteer along side of people they would never get to know otherwise, to engage in manual labor, to work outdoors, to get a taste of what the organization actually does - those are all just as worthwhile, and should be explored as well.