Recently I was visiting with an old acquaintance and one of the topics that came up was volunteers. At some point in the past I had said something about volunteers that subsequently proved true (hey, I am right sometimes!) and based on that, he was crowning me the know-all person on volunteers and suggested I write a book about it. I'm a bit more modest and realistic, there's a lot I don't know about volunteers. What I do know I've learned from volunteering here and there as well as learning to use volunteers for oPASS and for SQLSaturday. But the conversation did remind me of one my rules; if you want to know read the book. So I ordered two from Amazon, Volunteers How to Get Them and How to Keep Them, and Volunteers Wanted. Both were good, but I liked Volunteers Wanted better and it's a great value at $10.99.
It's an easy read, but there are a lot of lessons in that little book and the hard part is thinking about all the things you should be doing better as you go. It's obviously written from the perspective of the organization that needs volunteers, but it wouldn't be a bad idea to read it if you were considering volunteering so you have some idea of what drives the process.
Maybe I'll make up a mini poster one of these days, but for now here are my basics for managing volunteers:
Build specific tasks/time frames and then ask for volunteers
Follow up and don't get frustrated if they haven't completed the task, just leave time to reassign or handle yourself
Say thank you often and personally, and make sure the group knows of their efforts
My follow up project is to get someone to read the book and give a 15 min presentation at an upcoming oPASS meeting. That should get some interest in the topic going, and of course point out the flaws with my current efforts to manage/recruit volunteers!