Sarah Cox: How to manage increased volunteers over the Christmas period

Christmas is a time for giving; especially after a year like 2020. More people than ever are set to volunteer to help a charity this festive period and whilst this is so heart-warming to see, there will be additional logistical pressure in order to manage the influx of kind-hearted individuals, who want to help make Christmas as stress-free and enjoyable as possible for those in need of help.

In this article we wanted to share our top tips for managing the increased number of volunteers over Christmas.

Reassess application processes

First things first, your volunteers need to apply; we recommend revaluating your application process to ensure it’s as streamlined as possible.
You may want to consider asking for all background supporting information up front, rather than waiting for the initial expression of interest and then following up - this will save time and allow you to look at all applications in their entirety from the start, letting you easily pick out the suitable applicants and get the process moving as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
The time you spend evaluating your current procedures will likely save you much more time in the long-run!

Shift patterns

Christmas is a busy time for all, so many people may not be able to commit to a full day of volunteering when they have a number of other responsibilities to uphold with kids, pets, work, as well as their own Christmas plans.

The great thing about having a larger number of volunteers is that they will all have different availability and you’ll be able to offer shorter shifts to more people, so that all times are covered.

The length of a shift all depends on the nature of the job they are volunteering to do, so make sure that it’s long enough that they will be able to make a difference, but not so long that they feel burdened by it.

Communicate

It’s important that your volunteers understand exactly what is needed in the role they are fulfilling. You may wish to hold a group training session (either online on a platform such as Zoom, or in person, as long as you are adhering to current government guidelines on social distancing) so you can teach everyone all at once. You may wish to consider creating a printed or digital guide for volunteers to refer to so that they can refresh their memory when on the job.

You should also make it very clear who the contact will be for your volunteers should they have any questions or issues. Having a clear and defined role and process for your volunteers to follow, you’ll ensure that all tasks are covered and everyone knows where they stand, so that your charity can help as many people as possible.

Show gratitude

It’s important that you remember volunteers are working for you for free, so remember to thank them for the time they have so selflessly given. You can show your gratitude with something as simple as a hand-written Christmas card, or if you’re a particularly gifted baker you could make a batch of cookies to give out as a thank you.

The gesture does not have to be grand, but your volunteers will appreciate the recognition and will be more likely to volunteer for you again and again.

We hope these top tips have shown you just how simple you can make the task of managing an increased number of volunteers over the festive period. Implementing these ideas will mean you can continue to make a big difference to those who need your services during an often stressful and lonely time. After a difficult year, we know if you can make it through this, you can make it through anything!

Sarah Cox is the Managing Director of charity and faith insurance specialist, Ansvar, the sponsors of this piece.

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