Hope you are all coping with the wild weather across the country at the moment; that you are staying safe and your loved ones are protected. One thing we could not do without at these times of crisis are the amazing volunteers that work tirelessly to support communities, businesses and our environment.

Volunteers and their important work form a strong part of the social service fiber of our society. Fortunately many view volunteering as part of a well-rounded life; giving back to communities, causes and organizations and often just need to be asked to assist and are more than happy to give their time.

PHOTO: Volunteers worked late into the night to build a sandbag wall at Collaroy. (Twitter: NSW Rural Fire Service)

This week we have seen them putting out tarps on storm-flooded homes, filling and distributing sand bags to protect from coastal erosion; but they are also the people that puts out fires, apply resuscitation, takes phone calls from people in crisis, umpires sporting matches, deliver meals on wheels, rescues swimmers, protects animals,  plants trees, fund raise for charities, provide services for their immediate community and so on.

I know that many of you are volunteers yourself and many more work with volunteers so this month 
www.hallsforhire.com.au spoke to  Margaret Campion from the Melbourne organization, Samarinda Ashburton Aged Services who recruits and managers volunteers for many jobs including op shop-ers, kitchen / cafe helpers, gardeners, disability helpers and others.

We asked her firstly, how do you recruit her volunteers?

“I find volunteers through the Go Volunteer website, local council volunteer resource centers such as Boroondara, Monash and Glen Eira councils. I also use the Leader newspapers and other local newsletters, newspapers, community notice boards and community radio such as Ashburton Community Newsletter, Burwood Bulletin, the radio station 3WBC, and of course word-of-mouth.”

We then asked Margaret to explain to us how to manage volunteers and value them?

“Sometimes paid staff struggle with the task of supervising volunteers. ‘They’re doing it for free so how can I tell them to do something differently or faster or better?’”
she hears often.  “It’s true that they are doing it for free, but good volunteers want to learn and grow and do a good job too. They can take constructive instructions and guidance from their paid and unpaid supervisors. 

There are just a few golden rules when it comes to supervising volunteers to keep them happy and coming back:

  • Make them feel welcome
  • Use their name as much as you can
  • Lead by example and give them a clear role
  • THANK them, and share a laugh now and then
  • Make it very clear when you need them to come back again – ‘Fantastic job Carmel, See you again at 11am on Wed 12th September’
  • Not all volunteers will be committed stayers, in fact there are many frogs before you get your reliable princes or princesses, but it really is worth the time and patience to get to that committed person”

Margaret Campion is always looking for volunteers and trying to find new ways to connect volunteers throughout different organizations. If you would like to get involved in her volunteer programs or need more information about volunteer recruitment or management she can be contacted via email: MargaretC@saas.org.au   Check out www.samarinda.org.au

Till next month – stay safe and happy volunteering!