Is HR Needed to Manage Volunteers at NGOs? Part 3

Having gone through the process of identifying, interviewing and accepting a volunteer to your team (check out Part 2 of HR’s Role in Volunteer Recruitment here) the onboarding process begins.

Onboarding isn’t a generic welcome whereby you give a tour of the office with basic introductions and say “you sit here”. It is an intricate induction process that seeks to give volunteers a sense of purpose and belonging. It provides them with knowledge about the organization’s values and goals that will positively foster deeper trust, greater involvement more effectiveness and most importantly, increase volunteer retention rates.

A strong onboarding process can work to reduce the costs involved with recruitment, reduce negative effects on customer relations, and increase the time it takes for volunteers to become fully competent in their role.


Every organization’s onboarding process will look different. However, some critical steps will include:

Insight into Organizational Structure

Provide volunteers with formal documentation or brochures which outline the organization’s mission, vision, objectives, policies, procedures, and leadership. Understanding how and why your NGO works will give volunteers more confidence when they have greater context about their role in the organization.

Insight into Organizational Culture

This sheds light on how things are really done in the organization and any informal policies, strategies and routines. Once acclimatized, volunteers feel more included and will more likely return because they feel a stronger sense of inclusiveness.

Develop Interpersonal Connections

Staff and volunteers work hand in hand so they should seek to purposefully develop a good rapport that works to integrate volunteers while strengthening their interpersonal relationships. Mentoring, teambuilding exercises, and social interactions make volunteers feel welcomed and comfortable which in turn improves their performance.

Welcome Contributions

Fresh eyes can bring some new ideas to the table. Volunteers must know that their input is both welcomed and important. This increases their commitment to the cause as they know they too have a voice and are being heard and can be a change catalysis.

Provide Support

Provide volunteers with the knowledge, tools and training needed to conduct their roles to the best of their ability. This encourages a sense of security and confidence knowing that support is readily available.

Provide Motivation

Motivate volunteers to keep coming back via intrinsic and extrinsic rewards systems. Volunteer of the month, annual awards and even social media shout outs can make volunteers feel appreciated.

A well-developed and carefully managed volunteer onboarding process will make any volunteer program thrive. What does your process involve? Share your experience with us in the comment section below.

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