Volunteers: The Heart Of An Organization

Most of our organizations wouldn’t be able to provide all the life-saving services we do if it weren’t for the generous support of devoted volunteers. From walking dogs and socializing cats, to answering visitor questions and counseling adopters – volunteers are a workforce driven by love. But a volunteer program can only be as successful as the support it receives.

Volunteers can make your organization shine in the public’s eye – and even improve staff morale. However, if left unchecked, volunteers who aren’t well-trained actually increase the stress levels of staff, leaving them feeling overworked and less committed to the organization. Ineffective volunteers aren’t just a hassle; they can actually negatively affect your organization’s mission and damage the public’s experience.

The good news is that preventing damage is easy. Research shows that screening, properly training, evaluating the performance of, and instituting polices for volunteers are all crucial steps to success. Both resolving employee-volunteer conflicts and creating social opportunities for volunteers and employees to bond also go a long way.

When your staff and volunteers work together, they provide improved customer service, resulting in an engaged community, higher adoption rates and more lives saved!

To fine-tune your volunteer program, check out these resources:

Animal Sheltering magazine 

Animal Friendly-Customer Smart: People Skills for Animal Shelters 

Betsy McFarland

Betsy McFarland, CAWA is Vice President of Companion Animals of The Humane Society of the United States.

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