A volunteer coordinator is in charge of recruiting, organizing, managing and retaining volunteers for an organization. Most volunteer coordinators work for nonprofit agencies, although they may work for a business if the business offers opportunities for volunteers. Training for volunteer coordinators varies widely and frequently involves mostly on-the-job training or specific training through the hiring organization. However, there is a growing field of specific certifications and degree programs designed for professional volunteer coordinators.
The Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration has identified five core competencies of volunteer coordinators. These competencies are ethics, organizational management, human resource management, accountability and leadership/advocacy. Ethics refers to the commitment to following moral principles. Organizational management for a volunteer coordinator means strategically placing volunteers where they can best further the goals of the organization, while human resource management refers to the recruitment, training and management of volunteers. Accountability includes reporting on the use of volunteer resources to stakeholders in the organization. Leadership and advocacy includes furthering strategic goals and advocating for the roles and needs of volunteers within the organization.
According to a Seton Hall University research study, nearly 300 colleges and universities were offering courses related to nonprofit management as of 2002. Many of the courses in these programs offer valuable training for volunteer coordinators such as classes on leadership, ethics and community outreach. However, there are few study programs designed specifically for volunteer coordinators. Most of them are not full degree programs but rather continuing education certifications. One of the first such programs in the United States was the Certified Volunteer Manager Program at the University of Arkansas. Other certification programs include the Volunteer Management Academy by the Houston Association of Volunteer Administrators and the University of North Texas program of Volunteer Management Certificates.
The curriculum for volunteer coordinator training can be as brief as a three-day certification workshop or as long as a two-year master's degree program. Classes include topics such as volunteer program planning, volunteer recruitment and screening, volunteering trends, and program evaluation.
According to research published by Roseanne Mirabella in "Nonprofit Management and Leadership," the growth of study programs in nonprofit administration has had a mostly positive effect on nonprofit organizations and the communities where they work. The researchers concluded that training and study programs in the field need to partner with nonprofit organizations to ensure the training programs target the skills that are most needed in the organizations.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics 2010-11 Occupational Outlook Handbook does not list volunteer coordinator as a job title. However, it does mention volunteer coordinator as a "new and emerging" occupation title in a 2002 booklet on the subject. It is likely that training programs for this job title will continue to grow.
- Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration: Body of Knowledge in Volunteer Administration
- Seton Hall University: Nonprofit Management Education
- University of Arkansas at Little Rock: Certified Volunteer Manager Program
- Houston Association of Volunteer Administrators: Volunteer Management Academy
- University of North Texas: Educational Consortium for Volunteerism
- "Educational Impact of Graduate Nonprofit Degree Programs: Perspectives of Multiple Stakeholders." Roseanne Mirabella and Naomi Wish. "Nonprofit Management and Leadership," Spring 1999, Vol. 9 Issue 3, p. 329.
- Photo Credit Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
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