Organizational Success Tied to Effective Volunteer Management

May 28, 2019 — The better that Massachusetts nonprofits manage volunteers, the better they succeed organizationally, a recently completed study of volunteer practices of Bay State organizations concluded.

Christina Matz, associate professor at Boston College School of Social Work, told more than 300 people at an annual conference on volunteerism earlier this month, hosted by the Massachusetts Service Alliance (MSA), that "almost without exception, the better job an organization does with volunteer management, volunteer sustainability, and organizational practices, the higher the organization success."

According to the 2019 Massachusetts Volunteer Sector Survey, based on input from 338 respondents, Matz said there is a strong correlation between the overall number of volunteer success practices endorsed and an overall index of organization success.

In particular, she said practices related to volunteer practice success and/or organization success include, in order of significance, the following:
  • Having a dedicated volunteer coordinator (full-time or part-time)
  • Participating in the Service Enterprise Initiative certification training program
  • Having the capacity to respond to all volunteer inquiries
  • Engaging SeniorCorps members or Encore Fellows (older adults)
  • Having hired a volunteer for a paid position (part-time or fulltime) in the past two years
  • Organizational success correlates with frequency of volunteer involvement.
Effectively managing volunteers can also strengthen organizational capacity by providing a pathway to employment. Matz said 52% of survey respondents reported that within the past two years someone who started as a volunteer was hired for a paid position in their organization.

Matz cited the following practices as key to effective volunteer management:
  • Providing volunteers with clear expectations
  • Onboarding volunteers effectively
  • Ensuring a high-quality experience for volunteers
  • Effectively communicating with volunteers
  • Regularly collecting volunteer data and measuring impact
  • Assessing and evaluating your volunteer program
  • Allocating sufficient organizational resources to your volunteer program
  • Annually assessing needs for volunteers and volunteer position descriptions
  • Investing senior leadership and board members in your volunteer program and results
  • Training staff to ensure they are comfortable and confident working with volunteers
MSA, established in 1991, based in Boston, is a nonprofit organization that serves as the state commission on service and volunteerism. It is committed to increasing the number of people engaged in meaningful volunteer opportunities across Massachusetts that are both fulfilling for the volunteers and that meet critical community needs.