Volunteer Resource Managers vs Volunteer Coordinators

Uncategorized / Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

I recently purchased 365 Ideas for Recruiting, Retaining, Motivating and Rewarding Your Volunteers and The Volunteer Management Handbook.  These books are great resources for any charity or nonprofit organization and I highly recommend them.  Ask me to borrow them; I’m happy to share!  I thought it was interesting how the perspectives on “Volunteer Management” differed.  The first book suggested it was okay for a staff member or volunteer to be tasked with the responsibility of managing volunteers, while the latter stressed the importance of management-level executives dedicated to Volunteer Resource Management.  

Organizations that utilize volunteers should, at the very least, dedicate one person for working with volunteers.  This role can be filled by either a volunteer or paid-staff member.  We here at VolunteerMark strongly suggest having a paid full-time staff member dedicated exclusively to the important role of managing volunteers.

Top 5 job titles for leading and managing volunteers:

  • Volunteer Resource Manager
  • Volunteer Coordinator
  • Supervisor of Volunteers
  • Director of Volunteers
  • Volunteer Administrator

Small organizations might choose to call this person the “Volunteer Coordinator” while larger organizations with an extensive volunteer program may even have a “Volunteer Resource Manager” and a “Volunteer Coordinator” on staff.  

Volunteer Coordinators

This job title refers to the individual charged with being the point of contact for volunteers.  The Volunteer Coordinator must be a people-person, positive, likeable, and a strong motivator.  They are responsible for recruiting new volunteers, creating volunteer orientations, managing personnel records and tracking hours, communicating, training, and recognizing and appreciating volunteers.  In larger organizations with multiple staff dedicated to working with volunteers, the Volunteer Coordinator will generally report to the Volunteer Resource Manager.

Volunteer Resource Managers

The Volunteer Management Handbook advocates for VRM professionals to be given senior management authority as well as sufficient access to the Executive Director.  VRMs therefore need to be connected to the nonprofit’s “big picture.”  Since volunteers and charitable donations are the two biggest resources for any nonprofit organization, shouldn’t the manager of volunteers be just as highly regarded as the director of finances/donor relations?

However, referring to volunteers as resources calls new challenges since volunteers see themselves as partners rather than resources to be managed.  The book points out that VRMs are frequently not included in top-level planning, wish they had more strategic planning and training, and have inadequate access to the CEO/COO.  This can often lead to career burnout and turnover.  Many organizations do not identify a career progression from VRM to CEO.  VRM professionals report lack of respect and value for what they do and often do not receive any positive feedback for their contributions.  

What term do you think is most appropriate?  If you experience such pitfalls of VRM professionals as reported by The Volunteer Management Handbook, how and where do you receive the support you need to be successful?

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Volunteer Managers Declaration of Profession

Volunteer Management Program Cycle

National Standards for Management of Volunteers