Social institutions need to hire good volunteer managers

Corporate, youth and grassroots volunteers guide seniors to learn how to use e-payments.
Corporate, youth and grassroots volunteers guide seniors to learn how to use e-payments. PHOTO: ST FILE

That the social service sector will need 16,000 professionals this year, up from 15,000 last year, is welcome news (Hiring a manager can boost volunteer retention, study finds, May 28).

An increase in the number of social service organisations will create more job opportunities and bring about better career prospects for their employees.

Hence, it is imperative that voluntary organisations attach greater importance to good volunteer management. This necessitates the hiring of a committed and competent volunteer manager.

Voluntary organisations that adopt a highly structured approach to management in the areas of human resource development, strategic planning and operational needs are more likely to increase efficiencies for better sustainability.

It is a sad fact that volunteer management practices in some social institutions operate in an amateurish way, and this stems from top management focusing on recruiting volunteers and randomly assigning them to various programmes, regardless of the training or background of the volunteers.

It is important that voluntary institutions embrace proper volunteer management, such as a structured recruitment and placement process.

Equally important is an induction programme to familiarise new members with the operations of the organisation and to explore areas of volunteering that suit their interests.

This is crucial because volunteers should be assigned community programmes that tap their experience and skills to best benefit those they serve.

Any mismatch may result in high volunteer turnover, which in turn adversely affects staff morale.

A key challenge for a welfare institution is to get people to volunteer on a long-term basis, and this requires good management practices.

This, in turn, will motivate more people to step forward to give their time and expertise to make Singapore a more gracious, caring and cohesive society.

Jeffrey Law Lee Beng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 31, 2019, with the headline 'Social institutions need to hire good volunteer managers'. Print Edition | Subscribe