When It Comes to Volunteer Management, Size Doesn’t Matter

Guest Post by Carla Ganiel

Think your organization’s size impacts volunteer management capacity? According to a 2004 Urban Institute report, “Balancing Act: The Challenges and Benefits of Volunteers,” the size of an organization has little influence on the level of benefit gained from volunteers. Drawing on a survey of nearly 3,000 nonprofit organizations, Mark A. Hager and Jeffrey L. Budney conclude that implementing a high number of volunteer management “best practices” and giving volunteers meaningful roles and responsibilities are critical strategies for maximizing the benefits of volunteers in organizations of any size.

The report is one of four in a series on volunteer management capacity in community and faith-based organizations.

What do you think? Does size matter in volunteer management?

Carla Ganiel is a nonprofit management consultant from Tremont, Maine.

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2 Responses to When It Comes to Volunteer Management, Size Doesn’t Matter

  1. Penny Kern says:

    I have to agree. I truly believe that when a volunteer is matched correctly and given the opportunities to be of value, the size of the organization doesn’t matter.

    To me, a volunteer who’s treated like part of the “team” (either staff/volunteer or volunteer/volunteer)is more likely to gain, personally, from their volunteer experience. Although it’s not easy to build these kinds of staff/volunteer relationships in larger organizations, it can be done.

    Just my humble opinion.

  2. Anne Schink says:

    I think we often make the assumption that larger systems are more likely to have better management practices. My experience is that this is not always true. A committed executive in a small agency who seizes the opportunity to use best practices in organizational development, as well as volunteer management, is as likely as anyone to push hard until those practices are well established. It takes personal curiosity and commitment to lifelong learning to tackle issues, experiment, and risk failure to ensure that things are done right regardless of scale. Change is sometimes easier if you can just toss the past aside and create something new. Small systems are apt to be more facile it seems to me.

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