Is HR Needed to Manage Volunteers at NGOs? Part 1

The popular quote “teamwork makes the dream work” emphasizes the importance of having a well-oiled group work together in order to achieve set goals. Similarly to other sectors such as business and governmental; when it comes to civil society organizations, effective human resource management ensures the team is well managed, motivated and successful.


There exists a common view that NGOs are usually too small of an organization to have a Human Resource Manager or even an HR Officer. However, according to Peter F. Drucker in his book Managing the Non-Profit Organization “An effective non-profit manager must try to get more out of the people he or she has”. So despite the size of an NGO, HR should actually be a top priority for civil society groups.

Employee management remains a key function of HR. They serve to attract, hire, develop and retain qualified and motivated employees for the organization. Therefore, the role of HR in civil society organizations should never be understated as NGOs are also founded on the biggest resource- the human resource.

HR governance involves more than just hiring and firing but involves the development of the organization’s structure by which strategies, policies, procedures and operations are implemented to maximize effectiveness and to ensure sustainable growth.

However, not only does HR manage employees of the organization but they also positively contribute to the recruitment and well-being of another major type of human resource for NGOs- volunteers!


Because they are not legally employees, managing volunteers can prove to be challenging, that is, if there is no aspect of HRM policies involved. It is the human resource manager’s responsibility to establish stringent policies to manage volunteer engagement in civil society organizations as well as maintaining cost-effective volunteer programs.

How is this done? What strategies have to be implemented? Keep posted as we delve into HR and volunteer management in our upcoming blogs.

We would love to hear from you on this topic:

How does your NGO manage its human resources?

Does your NGO have a HR Manager or is this function being adopted by the manager?

What questions would you like addressed when it comes to HR and volunteer engagement?

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