How to Improve Nonprofit Volunteer Performance

If you work with lots of nonprofit volunteers, especially volunteers who perform complex and sensitive jobs, you may discover one or more volunteers who don’t have the skills or personalities to perform at an acceptable level. Hopefully, you never face this situation, but if you do — for example, maybe someone is giving out inaccurate information or acting rudely — you shouldn’t ignore the situation.

Discussing the problem behavior with the volunteer is the first step. Treat this meeting as if you were counseling a paid employee whose job performance was below par. Written job descriptions, written standards for performance, and records of volunteer time and contributed tasks are important when discussing problem behavior.

Exercise caution when meeting with a volunteer about her unacceptable behavior, especially if you don’t have clearly written performance guidelines. Volunteers who are released have been known to sue nonprofit agencies. If you have concerns about this possibility, consult an attorney before you do anything.

Talking to someone, volunteer or not, about poor work is never pleasant. However, if someone working for your organization is being disruptive, giving out inaccurate information, or otherwise causing potential harm to your program or the people you serve, you have a responsibility to correct the problem.

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