We are non-profits that never have enough people to do our important work. One solution, of course, is to recruit volunteers to help with that work. When you have people you don’t have to pay, you can expand your capacity and effectiveness.

On the other hand, it isn’t as easy as just signing someone up. You need to know what you expect the volunteer to do, and determine if they are able to do that. Ask yourself these important questions: How will you conduct reference or background checks? Do you have the capacity to supervise them? Do you need to measure their performance in any way? How do you track their time, and how can you leverage that time? (Sometimes you need a match, and volunteer hours can be a non-cash match.) How will you acknowledge their great work?

A lined white paper is taped to a blackboard. It states, "we need volunteers"

Sample forms for volunteer management can be found at https://topnonprofits.com/volunteer-management-101-5-keys-total-volunteer-success/

One way to locate volunteers is to become a practicum site for interns. Visit the course catalog for all the institutions of higher education in your service area and think about what students would benefit from a period of time with your center. Talk with instructors to see how you might become a site and what they will require of you. Is there a statistics emphasis? Could an intern help you develop, implement and communicate information about the local need from a survey they develop? How about Rehabilitation Counseling? Social Work?

You may already be aware that the center is eligible for VISTA or AmeriCorps volunteers; and sometimes you can recruit your own folks. Check out your options to apply at https://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps/americorps-programs/americorps-vista This is a paid volunteer position (although the pay is minimal, last I knew it did not count as income related to SSI and includes insurance). Here is the experience of one center: https://www.ilru.org/training/expanding-cil-capacity-one-cil-s-experience-with-volunteer-service-corps-1-hour We used this to start a center in Kansas years ago, and it offered wages and insurance to people who had not been employed.

The most comprehensive thing we have on our website is on using volunteers for peer support. Look at the resources at the bottom of this link for sample documents. https://www.ilru.org/training/building-effective-peer-support-program-proven-volunteer-model Best practice includes a description of the duties of the volunteer, reference or background checks, orientation and training for new volunteers and a review of the volunteer’s performance at least annually.

If your CIL has volunteers, tell us more in the comments.

Some ideas for Volunteers

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