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Tips for Supervising Volunteers in Special Situations

VILT participants

One of the complexities of supervising volunteers is the variety of situations the volunteers work.


When you are the overall manager and most volunteers are supervised by program staff.

  • Have open door and always be a resource
  • Have training for staff supervising volunteers and offer resource/tips often
  • Email/communication with program staff
  • Check with volunteer if they have the tools to do job; any obstacles; anyone to thank?


Supervising Short-term Volunteers

  • Have a consistent contact person
  • Keep in touch via email (photos, newsletter pdf)
  • Encourage them to recruit a friend to replace them


Supervising volunteers for a small organization

  • Greeting upon arrival and offer an opportunity to debrief before departure.
  • Communicate to the volunteer how essential they are to the program and impact on the programs
  • Make them feel like they are part of staff-conversations, invite to lunches.
  • Provide staff with short and fun training on how to supervise volunteers
  • If volunteers are working of-site, have them visit main site as part of orientation.


Volunteers who are at a distance or off site

  • Building relationships with every volunteer with monthly meetings
  • Frequent emails, phone call with volunteers
  • Visit the volunteer site monthly to touch base with volunteers
  • Have trainings at site
  • Getting volunteers together who have same volunteer position
  • Frequent acknowledgement of their work – thank you’s
  • Go over responsibilities before they begin volunteering

The following were tips from participants on some of the special situations from a training on Supervising Volunteers led by Barb Tiggemann.  The workshop was part of the Volunteer Impact Leadership Training Series co-sponsored with MAVA by Hands on Twin Cities and Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys.