12 Basic Needs of Every Volunteer

By Helen Little
From Volunteers: How to Get Them, How to Keep Them, Panacea Press, 1999, pp. 44-45

NEED 5: A volunteer needs a reasonable deadline for completing the task.

The Need
The best volunteers are typically extremely busy people. Whether an employee or a volunteer, people with conflicting demands prioritize work based on deadlines. Therefore, it is critical that you set a specific due date when assigning a task to a volunteer. Assigning a deadline also signals that the task will end.

How to Meet the Need

  • Set the deadline for completion and tell volunteers about it before they commit to the task. Confirm the deadline in writing when you confirm the commitment.
  • Plan for interim reports from volunteers performing larger tasks.
  • Monitor the progress of new volunteers through regular reporting.
  • Urge volunteers to contact you as early as possible when they cannot meet a deadline. Perhaps extra resources or a new deadline are needed.
  • Contact volunteers a few days ahead of the due date to remind them of the deadline. Sending a copy of the Project Activity Tracking Form will serve as a gentle reminder that you are counting on them. See the tracking form that a project team leader sent to an experienced volunteer, Howard, in Example 8 on the following page.
  • When you check in with the volunteers, make certain they have everything they need to complete the task on time. If there are obstacles, try to overcome them immediately rather than missing a deadline.
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