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21817 Volunteer Management

Question

Answered

Tasks:

Executive Summary
Clickability is an online disability service directory and review platform which is currently moving from its startup phase into a period of rapid growth, rolling out across new states and territories in Australia in alignment with the NDIS (Clickability 2017c). Clickability’s growth so far has been heavily dependent on the input of volunteers who have found the organisation through their disability advocacy and community involvement.

Clickability has implemented a highly successful volunteer program which involves volunteers committing to a specific organisational position with weekly time commitments and goals. The program is well supported with a social work style of management which includes self-directed supervision and ultimately aims to transition volunteers, particularly those with disability, into paid roles. As the program is tailored to individual needs it is time and resource intensive but volunteers have been pivotal in the success of the organisation during its startup hase (Appendix A).
 
The methodology for this audit is based on the National Standards for Volunteering (Volunteering Australia 2015), with reference to additional standards from other relevant organisations. Research was conducted through face to face interviews (Appendix A), emailed questions (Appendix B), the sighting of existing documentation (Appendices C, D, E) and personal experience. Recommendations are made with reference to available and accessible resources provided by relevant volunteer organisations and peak bodies.
 
Two major trends emerged from this audit process - that the long term volunteering program is well developed and well supported for the personal development and wellbeing of individual volunteers, and that company-wide processes and regulations are not well documented or uniformly implemented. These trends are both explained by the nature of the organisation existing within the disability advocacy space as well as the age of the organisation, but they highlight the strengths of the current and show opportunities for the program to develop to facilitate organisational growth.
 
Where possible, all recommendations are based on industry best practice and take into account the size of the Clickability management team, the number of current volunteers and available organisational resources so that recommendations are practicable and appropriate for immediate application.

Audit Overview
The methodology for this audit is based on the National Standards for Volunteering (Volunteering Australia 2015), with reference to audit templates and resources from Volunteer Canada (Volunteer Canada 2012), Volunteering Victoria (Volunteering Victoria 2017), Volunteering Queensland (Volunteering Queensland 2017) and The Centre for Volunteering (The Centre for Volunteering 2017).
 
Research was conducted through several interviews with one of the co-founders Jenna Moffat, a short emailed interview with a former volunteer Clare Humphries, the sighting of existing documentation and the inclusion of personal experience from working within the organisation. Please note, as some of the documents sighted are private planning documents and, as such, are not publicly available they have not been included within the document appendix for reference.
 
Leadership & Management
Standard 1: ‘The governing body and senior employees lead and promote a positive culture towards volunteering and implement effective management systems to support volunteer involvement’ (Volunteering Australia 2015). The experience of working within Clickability’s organisational team has highlighted that management focus strongly on the integration of staff and volunteers through the inclusion of volunteers in all company meetings, training sessions and educational opportunities. There is rarely a differentiation made between paid staff and volunteers and management consciously create a culture of inclusion through their decision making processes (Appendix A). The former volunteer who was interviewed stated that she always felt ‘valued and welcomed’ (Appendix B) within Clickability and takes great pride in having volunteered for the organisation.

Clickability, as a startup organisation, has a very small leadership team and fairly heterarchical organisational structure. That said, the current management team of the two co-founders has a clear delineation of roles and responsibilities in relation to each individual volunteer within the
organisation. 
 
For ongoing volunteer positions, Clickability has created a well-developed support and reporting structure for each volunteer which includes a co-designed position description (Appendix D), ongoing reporting, monthly supervision (Appendix E) and assigned mentoring - documentation of which can be found within volunteer files within the central company server, for those who have security access.
 
Strengths
The clear strength of Clickability’s volunteer program is their integration of volunteers into the ongoing management of the organisation and inclusion within staff meetings, operational planning and decision making processes. The social worker practice of supervision is an effective system for managing volunteers through self-led reflection and goal setting, providing a culture of support and professional development for volunteers (Appendix E).

Concerns
As has already been identified, volunteer policies and procedures are very underdeveloped which will grow in importance as the volunteer program expands and information will need to be centralised and consistent for all participants. Currently the nature of the volunteer management being both very time consuming and shared between two managers can lead to inefficiencies in time as well as inconsistency in participants experiences and management (Appendix A).
 
Opportunities
There is an immediate opportunity for the creation of suitable documentation and handbooks, to support the current co-management of volunteers. As the organisation expands there is a strong long-term opportunity to employ a specialised volunteer manager to implement the
time-heavy volunteer program when volunteer numbers and organisational resources allow. Further into the future, there should also be a consideration of how short term volunteering can be planned and included in the strategic operations of the organisation. 

21817 Volunteer Management

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