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What is Volunteer Management?

Photograph of Volunteer Centre ManagersThe term "volunteer management" is familiar to all of us working in organisations involving volunteers, but actually defining it, or describing what it looks like, may not be so easy. This section looks at some of the common aspects of management and also what is specific to volunteer management. This section also attempts to answer some of the common questions raised by volunteer managers.  Let's start by looking at what needs managing:

  • The overall organisation 
  • Day-to-day activities 
  • The budget 
  • The people working there 
  • The material resources Internal and external communications and information 
  • Strategic planning for the future 

Depending on the size and structure of the organisation, these activities could be managed by one person or a number of managers who in turn are managed by a senior manager. Good management means:

  • Having a clear and understood mission statement
  • Having a shared vision which sets out where the organisation is going in the short and long term 
  • Building a committed and skilled team 
  • Using all the resources available to ensure that the organisation achieves its aim and objectives 
  • Having an appropriate training, support and supervision programme for staff 
  • Ensuring there is adequate funding to achieve goals 
  • Responding efficiently and effectively to issues that arise 
  • Making decisions 
  • Showing leadership. 

In addition to these, and core to volunteer management is:

  • An understanding of, and commitment to, the ethos of volunteering and 
  • An understanding of what motivates each volunteer 

If an organisation involving volunteers and the volunteer manager have an appreciation of these core values, then the experience for the volunteers and the organisation is more likely to be a positive one.

Knowing what motivates volunteers
Knowing what motivates someone to volunteer is important in assessing whether you can meet their expectations. For example, if someone says they want to volunteer to meet people, then the volunteering opportunity must involve working with others. Sometimes people can't pinpoint exactly what has motivated them so you may have to dig a little so check your opportunities suit.  A volunteer's original motivation for joining is not always the same as their reason for staying, so it's always worth asking what motivates them to stay. This will help to alert you to new opportunities that these volunteers might like to try.

In order to manage volunteers effectively, you must: Understand why the organisation involves volunteers Know how volunteers fit in with the overall structure of the organisation Be committed to the involvement of volunteers Know what motivates people to volunteer and to stay Match the right volunteers with the volunteer opportunities Validate the contribution that volunteers make Build a team which values the contribution made by all members Ensure the efficiency of the service at the same time as meeting the needs of volunteers Deal with problems that arise It's a challenging task!

What is a Volunteer Management Programme?Graph of the Volunteer Management cycle
Having a volunteer management programme in place is the most straight-forward way to ensure effective volunteer management. It is about having a system which manages the volunteer process; it's the way it\'s done. Regardless of the structures or size of a volunteer involving organisation, volunteer management generally follows the same structure (see graph).

Each of these tasks is detailed in the sections which follow. When does volunteer management happen? Volunteer management happens once an organisation has a volunteer. It doesn't require a set number of volunteers. The system above applies as much to an organisation with two volunteers as it does to an organisation with two hundred volunteers. However the amount of time and management required at each stage will depend on the type of volunteer opportunities and the number of people involved. For example, an organisation with two volunteer counsellors is likely to require more volunteer management time and skill than an organisation that has fifty volunteers painting a mural over a weekend. Equally, the extent of reliance on volunteers to deliver a service, regardless of numbers, will impact on the type and amount of volunteer management required. So, for example, an organisation which has recruited twenty volunteers for one evening to pack envelopes does not need the same management as five volunteers going on a week long holiday with children with special needs.

Each volunteer-involving organisation should aim to have a volunteer management programme suitable to its own needs. It should be detailed enough to explain why volunteers are involved and how tasks are managed. Getting started Getting started is never easy and the idea of starting to draft your volunteer management programme can seem overwhelming. The following tips are intended to keep you motivated for what lies ahead. You, your organisation and the volunteers all benefit by having a volunteer management programme in place

The programme is essential in developing and maintaining a positive volunteer environment Volunteer management is often about formalising what you are already doing. You'll be surprised how much you can write in an hour about what you already do. The size and detail of your volunteer management programme should reflect what you need at a particular time so don't be put off by the size of some of the documents you see. It doesn't have to be done as a single task. Break it into manageable tasks, based on what is needed most. Introduce, implement or use what you've agreed as you go along. 

Volunteer Management Training Dates

Volunteer Management Training datesMayo Volunteer Centre can deliver a range range of bespoke and modular trainings to Volunteering Involving organisations (VIO's). Our 4 module Volunteer Management Training usually takes place over two full days (09:30 to 17:30) or over four evenings (18.30 to 21.30).  

If you wish we can also deliver this directly to your organisation or a group of organisations at a time and venue that suits you (minimum number of participants required).  

The four modules are as follows:

Module 1: Planning for volunteer involvement
Module 2: Volunteer recruitment and selection
Module 3: Day-to-day management of volunteers
Module 4: Developing a policy for volunteer involvement

More information on these Training Modules

It is expected that participants will attend all four modules as they are designed as part of a continuum. Places are limited on each course to ensure participation.



Our next Training Event is a One Day "Fundamentals of Volunteer Management"

Thursday 18th Sept 2014, Turlough House, (Museum of Country Life) Castlebar

Please contact Mayo Volunteer Centre on (096) 71444 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to book a place or for more information. 










Previous Training Course Participants

These are some of the organisations who have participated in Volunteer Management Training with Mayo Volunteer Centre.

  • Enable Ireland
  • Acorn After School Club
  • Castlebar Family Resource Centre
  • St. Vincent de Paul, ballina
  • Claremorris Community Radio
  • 50/50 Phone a Friend
  • Over 55's Club, Ballina
  • Employability Services, Mayo
  • Mayo Cancer Support Association
  • Mayo Mental Health Association
  • Westport Family Resource Centre
  • Jackie Clarke Collection
  • Mayo Cancer Support Association
  • Dolmen Club
  • Foroige

Mayo Volunteer Centre Training & Consultancy Service

Mayo Volunteer Centre are delighted to present Volunteer Ireland's National Volunteer Management Training Programme. Staff at Mayo Volunteer Centre have been involved in a wide variety of community and voluntary based projects and have a wealth of experience in volunteer management.  In addition they have been trained to deliver the National Volunteer Management Training Programme.

This four module programme (usually delivered over 2 full days or 4 modules over 4 evenings) is delivered in a hands-on, participative style and is designed to provide you with a best practice volunteer management framework for involving volunteers in your organisation. Mayo Volunteer Centre offer a wide range of volunteer management training tools for your organisation.

We can deliver our 4 module National Volunteer Management Training (NVMT) or if you already have gained some of these skills and would like to have further training on a specific volunteer management topic please contact us in Mayo Volunteer Centre and we can carry out a volunteer management training needs assessment for your organisation and deliver bespoke training specific to your organisation.

We can also provide one or more of the NVMT sessions directly to your organisation with a minimum number of participants at a venue and time that suits or organisation, again please contact us directly and we can carry out a volunteer management training needs assessment for your organisation.  We also provide consultancy on all aspects of volunteer management.

We offer a wide range of services for organisations working with volunteers in County Mayo. Whether you are looking for help recruiting volunteers, keeping your volunteers motivated, developing a volunteer policy or figuring out how to involve a volunteer in your organisation for the very first time, we are to help you and your organisation. Contact us to arrange an appointment or to find out more information about our volunteer management resources.  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for further information.

Volunteer Management Training Course


Whether you involve 1 or 1,000 volunteers, your organisation needs to ensure it manages volunteers effectively - and by that, we mean everything from how an individual volunteer fits in and works along side paid staff (if you have them) to creating and maintaining extended volunteer programmes. Central to any successful volunteering programme, big or small, is effective volunteer management.  

Below you can find details of our newly redesigned four module Volunteer Management Training Course.  

Module 1:
Planning for Volunteer Involvement

  • Preparing for volunteer involvement
  • Volunteer motivations
  • Identifying and developing volunteer role descriptions

Module 2:
Volunteer Recruitment and Selection

  • Effective advertising
  • Screening techniques
  • Applications
  • Interviews and volunteer selection

Module 3:
Day-to-Day Management of Volunteers

  • Induction and volunteer agreements
  • Support and supervision
  • Recognition
  • Resolving difficult situations
  • Exit interviews

Module 4:
Designing a Policy for Volunteer Involvement

  • Defining policy
  • Designing a volunteer policy document

It is expected that participants will attend all four modules as they are designed as part of a continuum.

For the dates of our forthcoming training courses please call the centre on (096) 71444. This course can also be delivered directly to any group (minimum number of participants required).  Please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

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