Simple Strategies to Better Manage Non-Profits Staff and Volunteers

The backbone of any non-profit organization is its staff and volunteers.  Without your team working together, effectively and efficiently, everything will suffer at your organization… including programs, operations, and fundraising.

Non-profits can be a challenging work environment.  Pay is often low, hours are often long, and many organizations operate month-to-month, reliant on a constant stream of new donations in order to keep the doors open.  For this reason, many executive directors and managers struggle to effectively manage their staff and volunteers.

Here are three strategies you can use at your non-profit to successfully manage both your paid staff and your volunteers, so that your organization can thrive:

#1: Set Clear Goals and Deadlines

 It’s as true in the non-profit sector as it is in the for-profit world: you can’t effectively manage people if you aren’t setting clear goals and deadlines.  Far too many charities operate in a wishy-washy feel-good space where goals and deadlines are hinted at, but never well defined. This leads to work not getting done, frustrated supervisors, and befuddled employees and volunteers.

As a non-profit leader, the best way to help your team be successful is to develop a plan that includes clear responsibilities and timelines, and then to communicate those responsibilities and timelines to your employees and volunteers.  Doing so will help your team know what is expected of them, and will allow you, as a leader at your organization, to measure progress and offer help and feedback when goals are not being met.

 #2: Be Open to Feedback

Setting clear goals and deadlines is important, but it’s also important to make communication with your team a two-way street.  To be a successful non-profit leader, you need to be open to feedback from your team.  In fact, you should be soliciting feedback from your team on a regular basis.

This is important for two reasons.  First, your staff and volunteers are in the trenches, dealing directly with donors, working on events, and dealing with clients.  They will likely have valuable insights into what is working and what is not working that can inform your non-profit’s plans going forward.  Second, when you listen to your team’s ideas, it makes them feel heard.  Even if you don’t act on their ideas or feedback, simply soliciting their comments and thoughts will help them feel like a valuable part of your team.  When people feel valued, they work harder and are more passionate about their jobs.

 #3: Create an Appealing Work Environment

 As noted above, non-profit employees are often overworked and underpaid.  Similarly, volunteers often feel like their work isn’t highly valued simply because they aren’t on the paid staff of the organization.  Even if you can’t pay your staff more, you can show your employees (and volunteers) that you care by creating as appealing a work environment as possible for your team.

For example, your non-profit could bring in lunch for your entire team once per month.  You may not be able to offer everyone a pay raise, but the simple act of ordering $200 worth of pizza every month might lead to a huge increase in job satisfaction for your staff and volunteers.  Likewise, if your staff has spent long hours working on an upcoming event, why not give them a day or two off after the event as “comp time” for all of the extra hours they put in?  Doing so will show them that you appreciate their work, and it will give them time to refresh and recharge.

Being a non-profit leader isn’t easy.  Creating a successful team is one of the biggest challenges for any leader, but it is also one of the most rewarding.  The best way to successfully manage your staff and volunteers is by communicating clear goals and deadlines, being open to feedback from your team, and creating an appealing work environment at your non-profit.

StratusLIVE 365 and Microsoft Dynamics provide the technology platform, specifically built for nonprofits, to enhance your engagement with volunteers, better manage events, and create effective committees with less effort.