How to Determine Your Nonprofit's Need for Volunteers

Look around your nonprofit organization and decide how many volunteers you need and what functions they can perform. Consider creating (or helping create) a schedule of tasks to be completed — planning what needs to be done and how many people it will take to do the work. By having such a list and prioritizing the tasks, you know what to do when an unexpected volunteer walks in the door.

Task Number of People Time
Data entry — donor list 1 person 3 hours per week
Newsletter mailing 4 people 5 hours per month
Lawn cleanup 1 person 2 hours per week
Childcare 2 people 3 hours on Saturdays
Filing 1 person 2 hours per week

It’s possible to have too many volunteers. Almost nothing is worse than asking people to help and then finding you have nothing for them to do. You may want to have both your chart of immediate tasks and a few back-burner projects — such as taking inventory in the supply cabinet — in case you end up with more people than you need on a given day.

In the beginning, you may have to experiment before you know exactly how many volunteers you need for a particular job. For example, you may eventually discover that a 2,000-piece mailing takes about five hours for four people to complete. You also may find that preparing the soil and planting 700 seedlings takes two volunteers a full day.

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