Tips for Volunteer Coordinators

Utilizing Your Most Valuable Resource

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Volunteer CoordinatorCoordinating volunteers is one of the most important jobs done by schools, churches, children’s sports leagues and non-profits. When it’s done well, these organizations run efficiently and accomplish their missions. But acting as a volunteer coordinator is no easy task. By combining these tips and’s free sign up tools, any organization can successfully utilize this most valuable of resources.

Give the direct ask.
So you choreographed a funny song and dance routine to let potential volunteers know you need them. You even snookered that wanna-be Steven Spielberg friend of yours to create a video to post on your website, Youtube and Facebook. But still, very few people are lining up for those volunteer spots you’re trying to fill. Have you ever thought of making a list of people you think could do the jobs and then asking them directly? The truth is, most people don’t think you’re talking to them, unless, well, you’re talking to them…directly.

Make it easy for people to volunteer.
Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong. This is where your skills as a coordinator will be put to the test. Have you organized your volunteer opportunities into small, easily accomplished tasks with clear starting and ending points? Do the time slots for volunteering vary, so that people can choose dates and times that work for them? If you can provide a variety of potential tasks, some that require working in a group and some that allow people to work alone, even better. And how about the volunteer location? Is it a site that is easy to get to or maybe even allows your volunteers to serve from home?

Background checks.
Let your volunteers know that you will do what it tasks to protect those whom they are serving. Great volunteers will appreciate this. If your organization serves children, the elderly or people with disabilities who may easily be victimized, make sure you have a system for running background checks. These should be completed before a volunteer begins serving.

Provide useful training.
Hey, the truth is, most of your volunteers will already have day jobs, so leave the lame training sessions to the professionals. Your volunteers aren’t going to be quite so patient if you waste their time when they aren’t even getting paid for it. Keep the training focused, relevant and as short as possible. While you’re at it, feed those newbies while you train them. People will put up with a lot for a really good piece of cheesecake.

Bake Sale fundraiser volunteer sign up form School carnival or festival volunteer scheduling and online ticket sign up Volunteer thank you appreciation sign up

View a sample volunteer sign up created with SignUpGenius!

Ask people to volunteer in areas they are passionate about.
As much as possible, use the strengths and interests of your volunteers to your advantage. Ok, we get it. No one is passionate about filing paperwork or sending out mass mailings, but someone has to do it. Look for ways to make even the mundane interesting. Why not combine the time a group will spend on getting out a monthly mailing to also act as a group think tank session? These folks like what your organization is all about, or they wouldn’t be giving you their valuable free time…for free. So why not pick their brains for ways to make it better while they get other work done for you?

Respect their availability.
The volunteer spot sounded enticing…before they volunteered. Now that those valuable servants have proved themselves to be useful, you’ve started asking more and more of them. Watch out. Volunteer burn out is real and can be deadly. It’s important not to push your unpaid workforce to their limit. Listen to what they are offering and don’t ask for more.

Reward your volunteers.
Everyone likes to know they are appreciated, and there are many ways to send this message to your volunteers without spending a lot of money. Candy, coffee and $5 gift cards for ice cream never get boring, but if you want to spice up the rewards, why not try a drawing for a bigger prize from time to time? Ask a sponsor if they’d be willing to donate a package, say a weekend getaway or salon services. Or you could get really creative and arrange a night of free babysitting for volunteers with young children. Moms and dads will love you!

Say thank you.
Rewards are great, but a simple thank you expressed often is just as valuable. Never let your staff forget that volunteers are choosing to sacrifice their free time by working alongside your organization.

Coordinating volunteers can be an overwhelming job, but it doesn’t have to be. Follow these tips to develop a volunteer base that is dedicated helping your organization succeed.

Posted by Angel Rutledge


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Posted by Carol Steiner on Wed Mar 23, 2016 4:27 PM EST
GREET/MEET YOUR VOLUNTEERS! You can't connect just by making spreadsheets. I just went to a mandatory training for new volunteers and no one bothered to say hello, identify themselves or even look around to see if anyone had showed up.

Posted by caitlin guerin on Wed Apr 17, 2013 11:15 AM EST
how do we sign up for voulnteer work?

Posted by Dan Rutledge on Tue Jan 15, 2013 12:37 PM EST
Sheryl - thanks for writing. We do have lots of organizations that use us for sports related events, including races. Check out this article for a great case study on a group that used us to organize their soccer tournament:

If we can help you further, drop us a note via the "help" tab at the top of this page and one of our reps will be happy to assist!

Posted by Sheryl Johnston on Tue Jan 15, 2013 11:13 AM EST
Has anyone used this program to register and coordinate volunteer positions / placement for a triathlon event? We recruit and manage 100+ volunteers for a large annual triathlon.

Posted by Dan Rutledge on Mon Sep 24, 2012 11:48 AM EST
Hi Heather. Sorry for the slow response. We're much faster if you write through the "help" tab on our site than through a comment area. We have night and weekend support staff monitoring the help support area. To answer your question... you accidentally checked the "RSVP" format. The RSVP format is primarily for parties and is not what you want if you are doing a responsibility sign up sheet. Login and EDIT your sign up and uncheck the RSVP format on the date/time screen and you will be all set. Hope that helps!

Posted by Heather Stupelli on Sat Sep 22, 2012 5:47 PM EST
Does anyone know how to get the volunteer signup layout? I cannot find how to modify the layout anywhere!

Posted by Robert Nast on Mon Jul 23, 2012 5:02 PM EST
Has anyone ever tried to use the SignUpGenius site to organize signature gathering for a CA Initiative? If so, we would apreciate their contact info so we can ask for some lessons learned. See
Bob Nast (805)984-5147

Posted by Angel Rutledge on Mon Jan 23, 2012 6:59 AM EST
Thanks, Timi. We hope this article and others on the SignUpGenius site help you in lots of ways as you organize volunteers!

Posted by Timi Olagunju on Sat Jan 21, 2012 3:50 PM EST
So little in words but so great in content- It's like the little David bringing down a heavy Goliath. i like this.

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This is the best free tool of its kind that I've come across on the internet. It is highly versatile and much more robust than any of the other tools that I have used. I manage groups and projects and this offers the ease of use for "non-technical types", thus making it a viable substitute for manual spreadsheets loaded from a zillion email responses. A huge timesaver!
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