I have not been a nonprofit volunteer coordinator responsible for managing volunteers’ time. The following are some of my thoughts from working with coordinators and nonprofits.
I found that the biggest problem with volunteers is dependability. Many times, people scheduled to show up do not come nor do they call that they are not coming. While there’s no clear solution to this problem, except keeping a list of people to call at the last minute, there are ways to make things easier for everyone.
What I saw that works best to improve dependability is scheduling people for specific days in the month. This way they know for that month when they are volunteering. Also, volunteers seem to like a monthly schedule.
Communication is important for scheduling. I found it surprising that nonprofits have limited contact with volunteers. Many nonprofit coordinators do not text or email and instead rely on phone calls. They provide little notice to volunteers when needed or assume the volunteer will come on a certain day because they did the previous month. Nonprofits need to communicate with their volunteers on a regular basis.
The big thing missing for nonprofits is that they do not send reminders a day or two before the volunteer is scheduled, and giving the volunteer an easy way to respond. There are software programs which will do this.
Finally, nonprofits are almost always needing volunteers. Yet, many of them do not advertise. Every nonprofit needs an overabundance of volunteers for when someone does not show up. Nonprofits need to tell people they need help.
My experience has been with many small nonprofits, so I wonder if large nonprofits have the same problem. Nonprofits and volunteers want the nonprofit mission to be successful. To accomplish this, nonprofits should communicate and volunteers should show up when they said they would.