Gimena Calixto 2017 Q&A: Volunteer Management

[Note: Candidates were limited to 300 words for each answer.]

What would you like to do to reduce burnout in volunteers (both staff & non-staff)?

This question ties to an answer I gave in the first part of the Q&A, since burnout is one of the main aspects affecting volunteer retention.

In addition to what I covered there, however, there are two measures that I believe would prove beneficial to all committees:

  • Scheduling regular check-ups, perhaps through surveys in the committees where one-on-one conversations with Chairs aren’t a possibility due to the size of the teams.

    I believe that there are various contributing factors leading to burnout, and identifying these factors is the first step towards finding a way to lessen it. One thing worthy of noting is that while some of these factors might be universal —shared between all committees— there are some struggles that are unique to each committee, which means communication would be crucial in order to be able to pin these specific causes and find an effective way to counter them, as well as for an early detection of situations that if left alone could develop into issues.

  • Updating our internal documentation. This is something that I’ve mentioned before in my platform. It’s my belief that having updated, reliable, clear and complete (or as complete as possible) documentation and guidelines —instead of relying on linchpins and passing down certain information ‘orally’— can only help in reducing potentially stressful situations for people who are new to the organization, or people who might not be new, but may be facing a task they haven’t handled before.

How would you approach increasing recruitment rate for those committees that are routinely understaffed?

One thing I would try is to make information in regards to the work volunteers do and the way the OTW itself operates more visible to the public. Timing ‘5 things an OTW volunteer said’ posts (which, asides from being really fun, put the work different committees and volunteers do in less technical and more accessible terms, and present a realistic view of what volunteering for the OTW is actually like in regards to responsibilities, time commitments, etc.) with recruitment calls (and linking them, when appropriate), for example.