Managing Volunteers

This course is not being offered in the Winter 2015 and Spring 2015 semesters.

In 2009, nearly 63.4 million Americans (representing just about 1 in every 5) volunteered their time, effort, skills and experience in a multiplicity of ways. Those 63.4 million people gave over 8 million hours in service, amounting to approximately $169 billion in volunteered labor. And the fact is that more than a few nonprofit enterprises simply could not survive without the contributions of volunteers

If you’ve been an usher for a theater, helped out in a neighborhood soup kitchen, fostered an animal for a local shelter, led a tour group through a museum, did pro bono work for a nonprofit or planned a fundraising event for your child’s school, then you understand the power of volunteering. But from an organization’s perspective, it becomes imperative – especially for nonprofits – to deal with volunteers in ways that make the most sense for the volunteer and the organization alike. Indeed, the way we manage volunteers has tremendous impact on not only the local level where whole communities are affected by the goods and services made possible through the hard work of these volunteers but all the way up to the national economy.

In this course, we start off by looking for a definition of "volunteer," what counts (and does not count) as volunteering and the settings where people volunteer their time. We also investigate a key shift that has occurred in recent years in the way people volunteer: from long term commitments to short term (or one time) commitments, sometimes referred to as "episodic volunteering." In the final part of the course, students learn to assess when an organization should use volunteers given the potential benefits and the potential challenges of using such individuals. Surprisingly enough, volunteers are not always worth the trouble. The answer is always lies with good leadership and the willingness of an organization to put into place the kind of personnel, procedures and policies that work for all concerned.

Tuition: $350