Volunteer Management: What Not to Do | Track It Forward

Volunteer Management: What Not to Do

Written by James McBryan

Managing volunteers can be a real pain. Are you sure that it's worth it? If you decide that you'd like to ditch the volunteers that you already have, here are some ways to drive them away forever.

1. Treat volunteers like grunt workers. They're not even paid, right? Give them menial tasks that no one else wants to do.

2. Don't consult with regular staff. When assigning volunteer duties, don't let your paid employees in on the planning. This way, staff is likely to resent your generous helpers and make them feel truly unwelcome.

3. Be disorganized. Invite volunteers over before you've determined what needs to be accomplished. Wasting a volunteer's time is a sure way to get rid of them.

4. Make volunteers hold the weight of the world in their hands. Give them so much responsibility that they'll crack from the pressure. Ask them to perform impossible miracles.

5. Berate a volunteer's every move. Don't let them breathe without giving "constructive criticism."  Make sure that your tone of voice is especially condescending.

6. Isolate volunteers. Stick them in a corner somewhere without any human connection or interaction.

7. Promote futility. Let volunteers know that their "drop in the bucket" dried up. To really kill the mood, inform them that their previous efforts made no impact whatsoever. Go into great detail about how the project failed. Better yet, invite them to work on a project that is likely to fail due to inadequate funding.

8. Ignore volunteers. Don't say a word about what they accomplished for your organization. Save your “thank you” for the annual volunteer banquet.

9. Shower volunteers with smother-love. Call your volunteer at home, several times a week, to tell them what a great job they did. Every day, tag their Facebook page with praise.

10. Make false promises. Tempt them with an incentive and then retract the offer.