Blog Post: Supervising Volunteers: 5 Tips to Manage, Lead, and Engage

Supervising Volunteers: 5 Tips to Manage, Lead, and Engage

Supervising Volunteers 5 Tips to Lead and Engage

Effective supervision can empower your volunteers to reach goals and do their best work. Here are 5 tips that can help supervisors manage, lead, and engage volunteer constituents.

Supervising volunteers can be a challenging task. The role of your volunteer supervisor should not just be to manage, but to also lead, communicate with, and engage volunteer constituents. Volunteers rely on their supervisor to set expectations, provide feedback, resolve issues, and be transparent. Because of this, your volunteer supervisor and their process can make or break the experience for volunteers. Luckily, there are a few best-practices that your organization can put into place to ensure that volunteer supervisors maintain control of a volunteer task, but create a positive experience for all stakeholders at the same time.

Here are 5 tips that can help supervisors manage, lead, and engage volunteer constituents.

Don’t Micromanage Volunteers

Micromanagement is deflating. In fact, a recent survey by Trinity Solutions found that micro-management interferes with performance and morale, two important components of an effective volunteer program. The best approach your volunteer supervisors can take is to train volunteers to accomplish their task, provide an end goal, and give them the freedom to perform.

Here are a few best practices for managing volunteers and avoiding micromanagement:

  1. Focus on each volunteer as a person.
  2. Allow volunteers the freedom to express themselves.
  3. Exhibit leadership and not control.
  4. Make volunteering fun, be supportive.
  5. Reassure when necessary.

Build and Maintain Relationships

By building and maintaining relationships, your volunteer program can see rapid growth. As of April, 2022, the estimated value of a volunteer hour has risen to $29.95 (up 4.5% in the last 12 months). It is crucial to the health of your volunteer program to retain volunteer constituents. Your volunteer supervisors can impact retention rates and engagement by getting to know volunteers personally.

Here are a few things you should know about your volunteers:

  1. Why are they volunteering?
  2. What skills and experience do they have?
  3. What is their desired form of communication?
  4. What do they enjoy doing outside of volunteering?
  5. Do they feel confident in their volunteer role?

Provide Adequate Training

You cannot expect volunteers to be successful in their role without adequate training. Your volunteer supervisors should verify that each volunteer feels confident performing the tasks associated with their role. Training is typically the first interaction that volunteers will have with your organization, invest in the best training program possible. The most effective training programs help volunteers fulfill their roles successfully, confidently, and independently. A good training program will be essential for volunteer supervisors and the volunteers they are working with.

Here are some things to include in your volunteer training program:

  1. Mission
  2. Expectations
  3. Responsibilities
  4. Tasks
  5. Objectives
  6. Procedures
  7. Available Tools
  8. Communication Channels
  9. Evaluation Process
  10. Training Satisfaction Survey

Be Consistent and Provide Feedback

Consistency is key for volunteer supervisors. Supervisors should provide all volunteers with a positive, enriching experience. Being consistent will help identify pro’s and con’s in the process. Another way for supervisors to optimize their processes and engage volunteers is by collecting feedback.

We have created several resources for collecting feedback from volunteers, check them out below.

10 Volunteer Satisfaction Survey Questions to Ask

Volunteer Satisfaction Survey: Solve Problems by Asking the Right Questions

Give Back to Volunteers

Rewards, recognition, and development go a long way with volunteers. Remember, volunteers are providing their time without financial incentives, providing some kind of value is a must. Providing volunteers with value could be as simple as creating a rewards and recognition program that provides incentives based on the number of volunteer hours fulfilled.

Did you know that VolunteerHub has gamification features that can help you reward and recognize volunteer constituents? Learn more here.


Effective volunteer supervision can go a long way in helping your organization reach goals and objectives. Your volunteer supervisors should provide each volunteer with the information, training, tools, feedback, and incentives that they need to be successful and engaged in their role.

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