Is HR Needed to Manage Volunteers at NGOs? Part 2

The financial constraints that civil society organizations face restrict their capacity to hire full-time employees. This has resulted in a heavy dependence on volunteers to fulfill the daily needs of these organizations.

In part one of this discussion, we debunked the myth that NGO’s are too small to have a Human Resource Manager (check out Part 1 here) and established that it is indeed imperative for volunteers to be carefully managed by HR, just like paid employees.

This is where Human Resource Volunteer Management should be introduced to ensure the proficient functioning of the organization. This process encompasses various strategies that seek to streamline volunteers through the development of volunteer programs. These programs include volunteer acquisition and screening, volunteer on-boarding, volunteer training and development, volunteer management and dismissal.


Volunteer Acquisition and Screening

To get the most out of volunteers it is critical that they are screened to guarantee that there is alignment with your NGO’s mission and their motives to volunteer. This is a crucial step, especially for NGO’s that deal with vulnerable populations such as children and the elderly.

Here are a few strategies that should be implemented in the volunteer recruitment process:

  • Clearly identify the roles and duties expected when making a volunteer call. This is no different from a job vacancy so provide as many details as possible so only those who are seriously interested, and passionate, will reach out.
  • Conduct a formal interview that includes completing an application form. This allows you to collect a considerable amount of information about a potential volunteer and ensures that they are qualified to adequately perform the duties assigned.
  • Yes, while experience may not always be necessary for some tasks, it should be required for those given major responsibilities and those who deal with managing confidential information or finances. For everything else, a genuine passion and willingness to assist is invaluable.


  • A police certificate of good character can reinforce their trustworthiness amongst vulnerable groups and again with those dealing with finances.
  • A letter of recommendation helps to give some context into a volunteers’ work ethic and general characteristics. An alternative to this is asking for two character references who can vouch for any required character traits or qualifications and experience noted.
  • A confidentiality agreement should be utilized in order to legally safeguard any private information about the organization, its members and those involved in any programs.
  • Finally, it is not unorthodox for Community-Based Organisations to identify the number of hours required from a volunteer over a period of a week or even a month. Volunteering is a serious commitment so although it is defined as pledging of free time and service, volunteers should be required to be consistent.

Generally, conducting this in-depth process should provide a strong volunteer base for your non-profit to produce a strong team. In part 3 we will look at the process of volunteer on-boarding.

We are interested in learning about how your NGO recruits volunteers? Share your process or recommendations in the comment section below.


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