The 5 Biggest Volunteer Management Challenges You Might Face

Take a look at the five biggest challenges charities and non profits face when it comes to managing volunteers and how you can overcome them.

Despite widespread recognition of the immense value of volunteering, the process of managing volunteers effectively can be challenging.

Juggling massive workloads, ever-shrinking budgets and a constantly changing team of volunteers puts a lot of pressure on volunteer managers across every sector. On top of that, to truly get the most value out of volunteers, organisations need to devote sufficient time and resources to set up a volunteer management plan, and have a dedicated team to manage it.

After all, attracting and retaining the calibre of volunteers who can become real assets to an organization is not as easy as it sounds.

So let’s take a look at the five biggest volunteer management challenges faced by charities, non profits and organisations, and how to overcome them.


1. Recruitment

It’s probably no surprise that volunteer recruitment is one of the most common volunteer management challenges. With so many other organisations competing for volunteers’ time, it can be hard to attract good volunteers who will become assets for your organisation.

So, before you get started, our tip is to make sure you’ve got a clear volunteer job description. That way, when you start posting your open positions, potential volunteers will know exactly what to expect from your volunteer opportunity. Not sure how to recruit volunteers for a non profit organization? Check out these top five places to advertise.

Encouraging your existing volunteers to recruit their friends and family is another popular strategy. Simply ask them if you know anyone who has the time, energy, and inclination to get involved and you should get some great referrals.


2. Volunteer Burn-Out

Unfortunately, volunteer burn-out is an all too common volunteering challenge. Much like in the workplace, volunteers can experience burn-out for a number of reasons. The most common issues and challenges for volunteering include being overworked, undervalued and stressed.

If your organisation is facing a high turnover rate, it might be time to conduct a volunteer survey to identify any common themes or issues and begin fixing them.

If volunteers are feeling overworked, perhaps you could recruit more volunteers to share the workload. For volunteers who are feeling undervalued, focus on improving your reward and recognition program and set up regular occasions to thank volunteers. If stress is causing volunteer burn-out, consider introducing a mentor or counsellor who can regularly check in with volunteers and debrief. Sometimes talking about a problem is the best, and simplest remedy.


3. Disorganization

It’s easy to become disorganized when managing a group of volunteers as you juggle a million competing tasks and requests. Taking advantage of volunteer management software such as Rosterfy will allow you to streamline admin tasks, shift management and communication.

Rosterfy’s volunteer portals provide a centralised platform where volunteers can manage their own details, upload relevant documents, complete training, sign up for shifts, check-in and check-out independently plus choose rewards. This saves so much time and effort so that you can focus on what’s important. 

At the same time, centralising volunteer data in one digital platform helps build transparency within the organisation and reduces data loss in the event of staff turnover. Starlight Children’s Foundation National Volunteer Manager Kerry Shields echoes this sentiment since transitioning their 8000 strong volunteer database to Rosterfy.

“In my role, it’s the transparency and visibility of what my team are working on and how they are progressing with recruitment. We’ve also been able to reduce the headcount of our team from 3 to just 1.5 FTE but increased the number of events and volunteers we recruit by around 150% since using Rosterfy”.


4. Volunteer Retention

Retaining volunteers is the number one way to improve the effectiveness of your volunteer program. Instead of spending time recruiting year-on-year, volunteer managers will be able to spend their time focusing on more impactful activities. At the same time, the knowledge, passion, and understanding of the program that long-term volunteers accumulate is priceless, so it’s important you do anything you can do to retain them.

Common volunteering challenges include feeling disengaged from the organization's goals, undervalued or unsupported, which can in turn see volunteers leaving organisations. To overcome these challenges, volunteer managers need to develop a clear plan of engagement and recognition of volunteers.

From a thorough onboarding process, where volunteers are encouraged to ask questions and complete relevant training, through to the recognition process with genuine rewards, a volunteer management software can handle the entire process.


5. Availability

Finding enough people who are available for shifts is a common volunteering challenge. Automated volunteer management software such as Rosterfy can do the hard work for you and handle all the scheduling, rostering and shift changes. You can gather data on volunteer availability during the recruitment process so you can see any potential gaps ahead of time, instead of scrambling to fill empty shifts at the last minute.

Through the platform, volunteers can register their availability for certain shifts and role preferences, accept or reject shifts, and check in and check out. If a volunteer cancels a shift, the system can automatically notify other volunteers who may be available to cover it.

Automating your volunteer scheduling is the simplest and most effective way to solve the big volunteer management challenge of availability.



At Rosterfy, we understand that building and managing a successful army of engaged and reliable volunteers is challenging. 

By understanding the volunteer management challenges your organisation is facing, you can focus on improving volunteering opportunities and engagement in order to achieve a mutually beneficial volunteer program and facilitate an all-around positive volunteer experience.

Read more about how the Super Bowl LV, hosted by the Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV Host Committee, overcame the challenges of volunteering presented by COVID-19.

If you want to see Rosterfy’s powerful volunteer management software in action, speak to us to book a demo.

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