Most nonprofit organizations are fed by the efforts and energy of volunteers. Some nonprofit organizations are entirely volunteer run'”from the board members to the people who actually carry out the services, projects and programs. For other organizations, the efforts of staff may be augmented by volunteer help. While volunteer help can be important, every once in a while there are those volunteers who are more trouble than they are worth; there are those who take up a lot of staff time, direction and are so high maintenance as to create problems for the organization or agency.
Sometimes, a volunteer is high maintenance simply because the organization has not found the right task fit. For example, you may be asking someone to do data entry who really has no skills or interest in that area. If you can take time to get to know volunteers as individuals and figure out what they are good at and what they want to do, you may be able to find a better task fit that will make them less challenging.
By having job descriptions and expected tasks for volunteers, you may also be able to cut down on some of the management issues. If individuals know exactly what is expected of them and how it fits into the bigger picture, they will likely feel motivated to contribute. In organizations where the volunteer feels undirected and un-needed, he or she may create more of a management issue. Have clear tasks and a clearly set timeline so that volunteers can feel productive with the time they are offering the organization.
If you can’t find a good fit or create a working environment that contributes to functional volunteers, there may be a need to “fire” a volunteer. Of course, you will want to handle this with tact and care, but while volunteers do take some energy and recources on the part of the staff, they should NOT be a total drain on the agency or organization.