Volunteer Management Is Need Of The Hour To Bring Social Change


By Maanoj Shah

From distributing free food packets to the needy, arranging transport to get migrants back to their homes, taking care of strays during the lockdown or helping the senior citizens or disabled people left alone during the lockdown, volunteers and good Samaritans have stepped forward to act in the face of the crisis and make a difference, in whatever little way they could.

These included members of social or religious groups, CSR arms of MNCs and registered NGOs, as well as a lot of individuals, with little or no exposure to volunteering activity earlier. And this has been a welcome change in the often self-absorbed and detached population of Indian metros.

While most volunteers in India today are an un-organised, self-motivated lot, the rise of social entrepreneurship and organised change makers are paving the way for a more robust not-for-profit ecosystem.

The rise of ‘Knowledge’ as a currency is another significant trend that is shaping the future of volunteerism in India.

So far, it was common notion that one can donate either money or time (labour) for a charitable cause.

That is now changing, as an increasing number of experts across the fields of technology, medicine, arts, humanities, and social welfare, are stepping forward to lend their specific professional expertise for a cause of their choice.

However, we are yet to find a structured approach to be able to fully leverage the power of these individual volunteers to shape, build, and strengthen our nation!

In order to handle this, it is important to create an approach that is different from a ‘productivity’ and ‘profit’ focussed approach of HR management for corporate.

The volunteerism management structure needs to work towards cultivating empathy, motivating action, driving ownership, and generating pride for the desired change, among volunteers. This essentially can be achieved through a step by step manner, as follows:

  • Create Motivation to act

    • Engage through a compelling Social Initiative
    • Share the impact and the ultimate vision
    • Highlight ground realities supported by facts and figures so as to quantify the goals
    • Share details of existing and required external support, in the form of Crowd funding, sourcing of Volunteers through Social Media, WhatsApp groups etc.
    • Creating partnership with Social Workers and other NGOs
  • Map Skill sets

    • Figure out their personal and professional background and interests
    • Assess the willingness, enthusiasm and self-motivation of the Volunteer
    • Identify target areas / teams which best suit the volunteers skillset, temperament and nature
    • Allow them to choose from a set of roles that will be best suited to their skill sets
    • Once selected, guide him through the way forward
  • Smooth On-boarding

    • Check their availability in terms of time, for both physical and virtual presence.
    • Guide them through the rules and regulations of basic on-ground work, including local intelligence needed for their role.
    • Provide support staff, and material like doctors, audio and video material, posters, etc.
  • Feedback on impact

    • Get a feedback of their experience in the first few days and understand challenges, if any.
    • Re-engage with them to share the overall view & the goal of their activity
    • Assure them of support and additional resources, if needed
  • Create ownership

    • Engage on Whatsapp and social media groups to share success stories, case studies, media coverage reports, and impact numbers etc., to create a sense of pride in association with the cause.
    • Encourage them to enrol more friends into the initiative so they have added reason to continue
    • Encourage them to become ambassadors of change, and promote this initiative among social media, and friends and family
  • Recognition

    • Motivation and recognition through internal groups as well as public domain announcements
    • Periodic announcement of impact numbers and acknowledgement of change
    • Thank You and Feedback Team meetings

As much as we all look forward to government aids and supportive policy changes, it is the decision to proactively take action, and make a difference at the grass root level, that actually builds a community, a society and a nation at large.

From offering technical know-how, medical expertise, writing and designing services, to initiating music concerts and art exhibitions across the globe to raise money, the new age volunteer holds massive potential to make a difference.

And it thus calls for effective volunteer management practices to leverage this potential and create a more prosperous and equal society!

And that is exactly what can help India, as a democracy, to not only survive and tide over the current health crisis and economic slowdown, but also help in building a strong and united economy, in the coming years.

About Author:

The author is a social entrepreneur, CFO & Founder, GiftCHANGE.org. He plays an important role in Khana Chahiye, an initiative to feed the hungry during Covid crisis where he leads volunteer sourcing & management. The team has provided over 3 million meals to hungry migrant social workers in Mumbai.