Jessie Camboulives 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)?

While burnouts originate from similar sources everywhere in the OTW (a lack of a support system, unsuitable workloads etc.), each committee has its own environment and work requirements. This means that any solutions to our burnout issues will need to be specifically tailored. Any conversation on this topic will have to revolve around input from chairs, and imply a certain degree of trial-and-error. This isn’t a problem we can expect to fix easily, or quickly.

That being said, while we haven’t found a magical remedy, some committees have already implemented a couple of processes that have helped them identify pain points. They consist in regular check-ups, covering most of the challenges committee members can face. This has provided chairs and staff with valuable feedback on the work done on a daily basis. I would like to adapt these solutions to other committees, and use them to monitor the well-being of our volunteers and staff, in order to provide relief when needed. I would also like to work with key personnel to create proper succession plans and trainings for current linchpin positions: we could solve many of our problems by ensuring that no one ends up feeling trapped or alone in their roles.


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

Organizing recruitment rounds does not fall under the purview of the Board: chairs work with our Volunteers & Recruiting committee to ensure the seamless integration of new volunteers and staff. Considering how time-intensive recruiting and training new teammates can be for existing committee members, I believe it is best to support each chair’s decision regarding this topic.

That being said, the main issue that routinely plagues understaffed committees isn’t recruitment, but volunteer and staff retention. We have seen many cases in which new committee members left the organization very quickly after joining it due to a lack of clear goals, or cohesive training. It’s not rare for new volunteers to have unclear ideas about the work that will be expected of them, and this has led to high dropout rates shortly after recruitment.

It can be very hard for some committees to find the time to put together the necessary documentation and processes when they’re already bogged down by essential tasks. The Volunteers & Recruiting committee has made some strides to help them along by providing some basic templates, but I believe we need to continue these efforts, to ensure that each committee has comprehensive training and monitoring procedures in place.