Hiring a Volunteer

potential board memberThe concept of “hiring” a volunteer has become increasingly relevant. A wide variety of organizations have “employed” volunteers for years in obvious ways – working at a hospital gift shop or helping with lunch duty at a school (I do this once a month). But pushing the concept a bit further, organizations have begun to replace staff, who cannot be replaced due to layoffs and hiring freezes as a result of financial constraints, with a staff volunteer.

Who Would Take The job?
Imagine that you have recently found yourself unemployed. You send out resumes, regularly check the job sites and go to networking events and meetings on a regular basis. A couple of months go by – now what?

You still need to find work so that you can pay the bills, but you also have to stay positive and keep yourself busy. Some people go to Starbucks or a local café for the day to motivate themselves. But what if you could continue to grow and learn on a part-time basis (giving yourself time to search for a paying job), help a nonprofit and give yourself something interesting to talk about in a job interview or networking event? You will also expose yourself to a new network of people. Sounds better than sitting on the couch getting depressed doesn’t it?

It could be extremely appealing to a motivated, self-starter who wants to learn and gain new experiences – in other words, someone everyone would want to hire.

The Obvious Drawback
Yes, the person who you just spent training could get a new job and leave you after a few weeks. You are taking that chance. But, hopefully, you have ignited a passion for your organization in the person so that he/she will complete any projects or help find someone who can take over. Or, perhaps the person would be a candidate for a less time-consuming yet effective position like a committee member or permanent volunteer, and now that they are employed, even as a donor.

How Do You “Hire” A Volunteer?
Figure out exactly what jobs you need done, what skills the ideal candidate would possess, what you are willing to train someone to do, what benefits and flexibility you can offer and write it all up in detail—just like any position description. List exactly what you require and what you can be counted on to provide. Provide a “contract” so that each party understands the other’s expectations.

It may seem like a fair amount of work, but the tradeoff is a reduction in your load, the ability for you to achieve more for your organization and providing an opportunity to someone in search of work. And that is good for everyone.