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The charity making life better by water

Seven qualities of a great volunteer manager

What turns a good volunteer manager into a great one? Read on to find out more.

Volunteers clearing up after the flood

1. Strong leadership skills

Great volunteer managers lead from the front, setting a great example. They're not afraid to get stuck in but also understand the importance of volunteer engagement, delegating and letting go of tasks with confidence, knowing that their volunteers are fully equipped with the skills, knowledge and enthusiasm to do a great job.

2. Great communication skills

Good communication is vital for happy and effective volunteers and volunteer managers understand this. They offer a variety of communication methods such as face to face chats and more formal meetings, and utilise new technology as well as embracing good old fashioned methods such as newsletters and posters. A great volunteer manager appreciates two-way communication and is an excellent listener.

Volunteers litter picking by the canal

3. Intuition

Volunteer managers are excellent at reading people and back that skill up with their inquisitive nature, taking time to understand the individual and their needs to place them to the right role. They also spot when someone may not be the perfect fit for a role and can provide more suitable alternatives.

4. Respect

Volunteer managers don't judge, they are welcoming and show respect to everyone and take time to understand the needs of individuals.

5. Commitment

Great volunteer managers understand it takes time to build up a volunteer base and stick with a project or task with ongoing enthusiasm. They understand volunteers move on and the importance to re-recruit and retrain volunteers is part of the ongoing cycle and vibrancy which volunteers brings to their organisation.

Canal & River Trust volunteer holding a net to catch rubbish in the canal

6. Organisation

Being well-organised is an essential skill for any great volunteer manager, they're often juggling a number of projects (and sometimes hundreds of volunteers) but can still tell you what's happening (and where) with ease… and they always have a plan B!

7. Appreciation

And finally, great volunteer managers appreciate all the hard work, time and effort their volunteers give, and show this by regular praise and feedback to their volunteers, either one to one or through group events. They're always looking for new and inventive ways to say ‘Thanks'.

Last Edited: 14 December 2020

photo of a location on the canals
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