5. Volunteer EmpowermentCapacity to empower and support volunteers
Working with volunteers requires the same clear communication and concepts as working with staff; one could argue, however, that clear communication is even more important with volunteers because volunteers are donating their time. If a volunteer’s responsibilities and role are unclear, s/he may become frustrated and quit. A way to ensure that this does not happen is to provide a clear outline of the objectives and methodology of your program. This guarantees that the key elements of your intervention which cannot be altered will not be altered. Give your volunteers copies of your program’s guidelines whenever you feel they might have lost sight of them. In addition, allow your volunteers to participate in the programs you have established for your staff, enhancing their skills in promoting community mobilization and public health advocacy.
Many programs underestimate a volunteer’s resourcefulness: giving more responsibilities to a volunteer will give him or her a sense of importance and promotehis or her feelings of pride in helping the intervention run smoothly. However, your staff should always know exactly what a volunteer is doing, especially when a volunteer has a lot of responsibility, in case the volunteer must quit, and your staff needs to continue where the volunteer left off. Again, in a concept similar for the staff, you should continually provide positive feedback. This is especially important for volunteers because they must feel their time has been spent wisely, or they will discontinue their services. Additionally, encourage a sense of teamwork among volunteers, allowing individuals to devise their own ideas. This permits a sense of ownership on a plan, boosting feelings of passion and creating an individual’s sense of momentum. Above all, make sure the volunteer is happy with what he or she is doing so that s/he will continue to work for your program.
A Ability to promote a network of information exchanges among program staff, public health professionalsand volunteers working on programs with similar goals
B Ability to help volunteers develop and maintain a sense of passion about their work by recognizing accomplishments, building on momentum, and supporting effective volunteer teamwork
C Abilitytostrategically develop volunteers skills related to Community mobilization
D Ability to strategically develop volunteer experience related to public health advocacy
E Ability to strategically develop volunteer skills related to working effectively with other community members
F Ability to communicate clearly to volunteers program guidelines and to identify for volunteers those parts of programs that cannot be modified or changed (the "givens")