Integrated Family Community Services 3370 South Irving Street, Englewood, CO 80110-1816 Ph: 303-789-0501

Strategies for Working Well Together as a Volunteer Team

Volunteerism is such an amazing aspect of community togetherness. The willingness of others to utilize their time and resources to give to a cause that they care about is what generosity is all about. Because volunteerism brings so many different types of people together, it’s important to create an environment that fosters teamwork and collaboration. Volunteers should help because they want to, not because they have to, so it’s good to create an environment that allows volunteers to feel connected to each other. It’s also helpful to facilitate teamwork and offer tools to aid in their success.

By focusing on communication, finding each volunteer’s strengths, utilizing team-building exercises, remembering the overall goal, and offering tools for success, each team of volunteers can succeed in working together to give back to their communities.

Focus on Communication

Having channels for communication, clear expectations, and open discussions can help any team with clarity and teamwork. Communication is key in setting expectations and getting any project off the ground, whether it’s in a business setting or a volunteer setting:

  • Make sure that each volunteer knows how to get in touch with organizers, as well as each other.
  • Encourage open discussion and questions.
  • Allow volunteers to communicate with each other in order to organize projects and duties. Not only will this help volunteer events, duties, and responsibilities get done efficiently, it’ll also help volunteers learn how to rely on each other.

Find Each Volunteer’s Strengths

It’s important to allow volunteers to find their own strengths and passions within their volunteer opportunity. Finding that passion is one of the ways to improve the effectiveness of serving a community while evaluating public needs and awareness.

Each volunteer will feel happier and more confident in their role within the team if their duties align with their strengths. Work on finding these strengths by allowing volunteers to choose their job or to try a little bit of everything so that they can discover their strengths. Handing out a survey can also help in this process. The team will be stronger if each volunteer feels a sense of confidence and passion in their role.

Utilize Team-Building Exercises

A volunteer team may not be getting paid like a team within a business, but a lot of the camaraderie and hard work is the same. Many businesses implement team-building exercises to help their employees build trust and boost morale, and you can use those same tools for a team of volunteers.

Many team-building exercises are fun, allow team members to get to know each other, and challenge them at the same time. Your team-building exercises may be something as simple as a dinner or something more challenging, like an escape room. Other options include zip lining, trust falls, ice breakers, games of capture the flag, online trivia, and more.

Remember the Goal

Sometimes it’s a lot easier to get teams to work better together if you remind them of the huge difference they are making for their organization. Offering appreciation and gratitude for their time and sacrifice will remind volunteers why they decided to offer their time to their community and can give them the push they need to stay committed to their team. One strategy to help volunteer teams work well together is to remind them that they all have one common goal in mind, and that they are all doing something amazing to meet that goal. Even small acts of service make a big difference for those who volunteer as well as those they are helping.

Use Tools for Success

Taking a note from businesses and corporations who focus on organizational leadership and project management is a great tool in finding strategies to help facilitate the success of a volunteer team. Often, it’s not the lack of desire to work as a team; it’s the lack of resources and tools to facilitate that desire.

Especially for organizations who work with many people across the country, or even across the world, managing those volunteers efficiently takes a lot of effort and planning. According to Maryville University:

Challenges related to remote work come in the form of different time zones, language barriers, access to communication technology, security, and tech support. In an increasingly remote workplace climate, project managers must learn how to manage employees who are scattered over vast expanses, delegate without micromanaging, allocate resources, establish clear goals, and communicate effectively.

The right technology can facilitate communication and collaboration within both traditional and remote workplaces. The days of spreadsheets are over. Today, cloud-based systems, mobile apps for data sharing, and project management software that can schedule and track tasks help PMs allot resources and structure processes for the best results.

Many businesses focus on offering online tools to help teams communicate, especially if teams work remotely from one another or from the home base. You can do the same by creating a Facebook page for your volunteers, a Slack channel, utilizing project management software to delegate tasks, or any other tool you find useful. The great thing is that many of these tools are free and can help a volunteer team succeed in working together.

The great thing about a volunteer team is that the odds are that everyone there really wants to be there and really believes in the message behind their act of service. A lack of teamwork is often not about a pushback for the team; it’s usually a lack of tools and resources on how to work together.

By offering strategies to increase their teamwork, they will have the tools they need to work together. At the end of the day, volunteerism is really about giving back to your community and doing the right thing for those who need it. Without volunteers, so many would go without. Facilitating teamwork will help your volunteers be the best they can be when addressing the needs of your community.

Tim Esterdahl

Tim Esterdahl is the editor of IFCS blog. He is a married father of three and enjoys golf in his spare time.
Tim Esterdahl

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