Dealing with a volunteer organization is not an easy task. For one, your members are only volunteers - that is, they can decide to leave anytime and if they do stay for a long time, the hours they spend in your organization are most likely their only free times. If you're running a volunteer organization and you wish to effectively structure its management, here are some pointers for you.
- Remember what your organization's goals are. Most of the time, volunteer organizations are hinged to a particular belief, values or advocacy. This is precisely why you have volunteers - because they believe in what you believe. It is not a type of business where you can point people to the direction that you want them to go to because they are being paid. Maintaining these values and goals are essential in determining the structure of your management. For instance, the president, president-elect, past president and treasurer are integral parts of your management team. However, depending on your goals, you may have secretaries or vice presidents for cabinets who handle specific community services, internal affairs, etc.
- Plan out the roles that you need. The roles that you define for your organization must follow the goals of your organization. Each position must have a place in advancing the interests of your organization to ensure that your members are continuously motivated into pushing forth the values you promote. Once you have your needed roles, the job descriptions of each must be explicitly stated and easily understood. These job descriptions include but are not limited to: position title, direct report, term or office and standards for re-election or re-appointment, overall function to be performed, duties, responsibilities and type of service required (reports, meetings, etc), realistic estimate of how long this role is needed every month, and job qualifications and trainings needed. The proper way of handling any type of change in the organization must also be well planned, including the people responsible for approving and implementing these changes.
- Determine whether you need to have the officers elected or appointed. Having elected officers seems to be the more beneficial of the two as you are assured that he/she has the backing and support of the rest of the members. However, an appointed officer reduces the time spent in voting and nominations, and also makes replacements easier in cases of resignation. These two should be carefully weighed and deliberated upon before voting instructions are incorporated in the organizations by-laws. However, regardless of whether your officers are elected or appointed, they need to have and exude the necessary leadership skills to effectively run the organization.
- Have a committee. Especially if your organization is a huge one, it is best to have committees for specific areas of the operations to ensure that goals and objectives are met. Through committees, the rest of the volunteer body is encouraged to be involved in specific tasks that they are most interested in. It is also helpful in assigning tasks over a large number of people as opposed to only a few. Lastly, committees help the management identify potential officers and leaders based on their performance in their respective committees. Of course, like a normal organization, the people involved must be professional at all times.
Since volunteer organizations thrive in the dedication of their volunteers, it is best that their management teams are properly structured beforehand. This ensures that efforts are continuously made, not only to promote the goals and visions of the organization, but also to recruit more members and keep existing members motivated.