by Niles Anderegg, research and content development associate, ICMA
Volunteers play a critical role in helping local governments fulfill their mission to residents, whether this is by supporting events that communities are sponsoring or by delivering services on an ongoing volunteer basis. In honor of National Volunteer Month, here are a few resources that can help you better work with volunteers to benefit your community.
One challenge is where to start when creating a volunteer program. In 2016, ICMA created a checklist that can be used to build a volunteer program. This checklist includes tips on identifying staff champions who can work with your volunteers and making sure the volunteer program fits with community priorities.
For communities that already have a volunteer program, ICMA also created an infographic with five strategies that can be used with individual programs. The infographic includes such strategies as integrating a volunteer program with the human resources department to ensure volunteers get proper training, as well as working with collective bargaining units to ensure transparency regarding the role of volunteers.
Another key part of a robust volunteer program is having good materials that staff and volunteers can use as part of their training. ICMA has examples of handbooks and training manuals from Roseville, California, which can be adopted for other volunteer programs. These resources include a training manual for supervisors that details the roles and expectations of both the supervisor and the volunteer. There also is a handbook for volunteers, explaining how a volunteer fits within the overall priorities of a local government.
It also is important that communities thank their volunteers, and ICMA has produced a list of ideas that can be used to show volunteers that they are appreciated.
It's Your Time to Make a Difference – Volunteer! ICMA has its own volunteer program that you can join. This article explains how you can help out your profession.
Having the Best Time. This 2016 PM article explains how volunteers were a big help in Venice, Florida, during a large triathlon that the city helped manage.
Managing Volunteers in a City. This article from the League of Oregon Cities gives some good insight into managing volunteers and provides example success stories from Oregon communities.