Volunteer Management Book Review

Volunteerism, a word we know well from the United We Serve campaign, working in the nonprofit sector, or hearing those that came before us encourage charity. People who give their time are crucial to organizations and yet not all of us have the tools or experience to manage volunteers.

Have no fear, a book is near! We have resources that could potentially help you. I recommend a specific circulating book – Nancy Sakaduski’s Managing Volunteers: How to Maximize Your Most Valuable Resource. The book begins with the 10 Commandments of Good Volunteer Management. My top favorite are (1) Do unto volunteers as you would have them do unto you, (2) Thou shalt not kill enthusiasm, and (3) Thou shalt not forget that there is more than one way to skin a cat.

Sakaduski’s book is a comprehensive look at everything to do with volunteer management. The book is 198 pages and 40 some pages are website references, end notes, and an index. The author does well in addressing recruitment, selection, training, matching the volunteer to a task, retention, awarding, policies, and even a whole chapter on potential problems (The Over-Promiser or The Bulletproof type volunteers).

I do like Sakaduski’s use of quotes throughout the book such as:managing volunteers book

  • “Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” – Vince Lombardi
  • “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Mahatma Gandhi.

I ponder the significance of the quotes’ meaning and it gives me a sense of what direction the author will take in that particular section. Another thing that is well done in this book is the end of chapter – “Questions to Get You Started.”

What could you do to create a better sense of empowerment for the volunteers?

  • Are there ways you might create more challenging assignments for motivated volunteers?
  • Do you have policies in place to cover areas of risk and liability?

Sometimes we need a little prompt to get going, whether it’s our first time or needing a fresh outlook.  The questions might be helpful  to ask your Board of Directors or other staff members and begin a dialogue.

*This book is available for check out at the Allen County Public Library. It is shelved at the Paul Clarke Nonprofit Resource Center. Call number 302.14 D33M or click here to view the book record. 

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