Thursday, 7 February 2013

Volunteers - Utilizing help

We often have people enquire about volunteering but I’m not really certain how to go about things...
The op shop I coordinate is a small independent church based op shop. I am the only paid staff member and we currently have 10 volunteers. Four of these volunteers come in once a week for a couple of hours to sort through donations and hang clothing. There is the gardener and 2 who are regulars, in most days and another two who come in 3 days a week for other reasons. All are vital to my sanity and my ability to keep the store running. At the moment I am clearly going with quality, not quantity.
More volunteers would be nice but it’s not just that easy. There would be a lot of things I would need to address. The most expensive would most likely have to be getting a new fridge as we currently have a bar fridge. With up to 8 people in on one day a bar fridge hardly does it as it is! Another hefty expense would be police checks. Every volunteer has to have a police check before they start, I’m not 100% why but this is the policy as far as I know.
However the most time consuming factor would be organising shifts and training up volunteers which would be my responsibility. This entails a large amount as I have recently learned. From personal presentation, stock presentation, customer service and just main workplace etiquette there is a lot to cover. Some people seem to think that because they are volunteering that means they can just pop in and volunteer when and for how long they want. With these ‘short term volunteers’ it’s hardly worth the time.
I guess when I think about it, it’s the same as any workplace. There will always be those who are not so good at their job but then there are others that excel, are reliable and willing to commit. I have to try more to use people in an area they enjoy. If someone’s passion is not with people then customer service is not their place, and getting them to do something else like sort clothing, tidy racks or order shelves might be better suited to them.
Have you ever volunteered at an op shop? What is it you liked/would like to do? Can you think of any way to make my role of coordinating volunteers easier? We all like to lessen our workload of course...

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