Working with Volunteers

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Working with volunteersWhat does volunteering mean?
The result of self-initiative and free will, volunteers are not oriented towards material gain. Volunteering is usually a community activity focused on the common good.

Why should volunteer work be a cornerstone of every campaign?
Volunteering shapes and forms societies and is key to successfully accomplishing certain objectives. People who do volunteer work contribute a range of individual competencies: know-how, social skills and the ability to motivate people. Furthermore, they serve as opinion multipliers within a campaign.

The diversity and creativity of volunteers can add to the value and success of every campaign. The broader the supporter base, the higher the credibility with the target group.

Why do people engage in volunteer work and what do they expect from it?
People volunteer because they want to contribute to society, because they want to change something or engage with others. They have different expectations of volunteer work. They regard it as very important that the work is fun, that they get to meet likable people, help others through their volunteering and contribute to the common good. They expect long-term planning of their tasks, a clear and well defined time span for their assignment, and appreciation and recognition of their contribution. It is important to provide volunteers with regular feedback, and to give them a say in decisions. 

How can volunteers take part in a campaign?
Basically, there are two ways people can contribute to a campaign:
–       online participation, for example disseminating campaign messages via social media.
–       direct local participation, on the street or at events, for example collecting money or signatures for a petition.

What are measures of success for working with volunteers?
Prerequisites for the successful involvement of volunteers in a campaign are:
–       acceptance: supporters are welcome to contribute to our organisation; their involvement is an integral part of our work.
–       appreciation: it is recognised at all levels of our organisation that volunteers make a unique contribution to the success of our campaigns.
–       specificity: we make offers to the supporters that are tailored to their individual needs, interests and skills.

How can volunteers’ work be planned and organised within a campaign?
The following key aspects have to be taken into account:

1. Create a general concept and integrate it into the campaign strategy
–       Why should volunteers be part of the campaign?
–       What significance does volunteering have for us?
–       How do we treat volunteers?
–       Why should they work with us?
–       What possibilities and rights do activists have with us?

2. Identify demand and possible assignments
–       In which areas can volunteers contribute to our campaign?
–       In what specific way can they become active?
–       How many people do we need for which activity?
–       How attractive are the tasks?
–       How can volunteers contribute their own ideas?

3. Define target groups
–       Which groups do we want to target, i.e. who can be mobilised for our campaign?
–       Who is the topic relevant to, which groups of people see it as relevant?
–       Which persons are most likely to accomplish the task?
–       Are our offers sufficiently attractive to volunteers?

4. Creation of task profiles
–       What kind of qualifications do supporters need to possess?
–       What information do they need to accomplish their tasks (for example, detailed task description, beginning and end of action, contact person and contact details, timetable, directions, etc.)?

5. Gain supporters
–       How do we motivate people to join our campaign?
–       Where can we find appropriate supporters?
–       Which media do we use to address them and how are our press relations organised?
–       What print material should we prepare?
–       Which online tools can we use to recruit supporters online?
–       How do we manage volunteers and what data protection regulations must we heed in our work with them?

6. Meeting and looking after volunteers
–       In what setting do we meet the volunteers?
–       How do I train the volunteers?
–       What do they have to learn?
–       How can their abilities be fostered and further developed?

7. And last but not least
–       Motivate, reward and appreciate volunteers!

[Click here for Best Practice Examples]

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