We before I

Or What Makes Me An Exceptional Volunteer Coordinator

“I’m ambitious, I’m well-organized and I communicate well with my volunteers”, says one volunteer coordinator. On the other side of the room, another one describes themselves as “reliable, creative and principle-oriented”. Then comes the third, and then the fourth and fifth…all of the volunteer coordinators find a way to tell us what makes them good at volunteer management.

If you were in this room, what would you say that would show us how great you are at managing volunteers? See, first of all, it’s about leaving the ego behind. Your title and your role speak in “We” just as much as it speaks in “I”.

Yes, you can have all of the above-mentioned qualities and still be an average volunteer coordinator. But, there are exceptions. There are volunteer coordinators that succeed in their mission as people management professionals by differentiating important and essential qualities. And, they know that “we” comes before “I”.

Let’s see what we’re talking about.

The secret ingredient

If we imagine the volunteer organization to be the cake, then you would be the secret ingredient that holds all the smaller compounds that are essential for perfect dough.

Before anything else, you should:

  • Know your role to the core (you’re not just a “volunteer coordinator”. You’re the HR person. You’re the recruiter and the manager. You’re the volunteer’s mind, the solution-finder, the peacemaker, the principles creator, the listener, the speaker, the encourager and supporter, the friend, and the colleague and most of all — The Leader)!
  • Have experience in recruiting and managing volunteers. Accepting the volunteer coordinator position without having any background in volunteer management, volunteer database, and people management is equal to a self-inflicted wound. This is not a hobby, as much as you consider it as such. This is a responsible role where you stand as a leader of many people.
  • Maintain clean, organized and accurate documentation. Volunteer database and volunteer administration are the faces of your volunteer management proficiency. If you’re chaotic and carelessly disorganized, then you’ve chosen the wrong position.
  • Have the potential, the courage, and the “mind clicker” to convince a volunteer to stay in the organization. You know, as a volunteer coordinator, it’s really important to have the Ross’ “Unagi!” A volunteer is about to leave? “Unagi! I know how I’ll make them stay!”
  • Know the key importance of making an accurate and orderly volunteer schedule. Without this, the whole volunteer management system will drop dead.
  • How to be the King/Queen of feedback. Feedback is everything. Feedback is the food you give to your volunteers. Never let them work hungry, else they’ll find another source of nutrients. This is when they leave!
  • Use volunteer management software. Without a seamless tool for volunteer management, please don’t call yourself a volunteer coordinator.

Developing and managing volunteers means developing and managing yourself as an exceptional volunteer coordinator. Can you now understand why the “we” comes before the “I”? If you want to be the leader, focus on what you’re leading.

What do you think? What makes YOU an exceptional volunteer coordinator?

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