Volunteers are an integral part of many nonprofit organizations. They help in a variety of ways to complete work for which an organization lacks full-time staff. Volunteers are typically one of the biggest sources of support, and this comes with both rewards and risks to the nonprofit organization.Volunteers

Rewards

  • Savings – Saving money is a huge reward for using volunteers as part of projects, events or for certain tasks. Using volunteers instead of hiring employees allows for more funding to be spent on the mission of the organization.
  • Visibility – Increased visibility is another reward. Volunteers often send information and opportunities about nonprofits they are associated with to their co-workers, friends, and family. You can also ask volunteers to share specific social media posts to increase your organization’s community reach.
  • Impact – Greater impact! More people means more opportunities to deliver programs and services to your clients and carry out the mission of the organization.

Risks

  • Reputation – a nonprofit organization’s squeaky-clean reputation is vital to community engagement and success. If a spirited volunteer makes an inaccurate social media post or inappropriate comment to a client – it could offend people in the community or bring negative media coverage which might tarnish the organization’s reputation.
  • Injury – Accidents can happen at any time, but an injury to a volunteer that has not been properly trained or advised of a potential hazard, could result in a financial hardship for the nonprofit.

Ways to mitigate these Risks

  • Policies – Developing policies such as a volunteer policy and social media policy is a great way to make sure the organization and the volunteer are on the same page about expectations.
  • Training – There are many different facets in which a volunteer can support an organization, but each task given to a volunteer should be met with some form of training. Training will enable the volunteers to better understand expectations for the task, work more efficiently, and will help to avoid potential issues for the organization. These should include basic nonprofit training, organization-specific training, and task-specific training.
  • Clarity – Be specific in your requests, advising the volunteer of how they should react in certain situations, who their go-to for questions is and how they can best serve the organization.
  • Insurance – Ensure the organization has volunteer accident insurance and proper liability coverage.

Contact a member of Gilliam Bell Moser, LLP’s Not-for-Profit Niche team at 336-227-6283 for more information.

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