Volunteer Matching – Made in Heaven?

What’s with all the buzz around volunteer matching? Is the concept of matching in, old, out, or here to stay? 

When I first started at Volunteer Calgary we used matching as a basic or amateur term. Matching volunteers to volunteer positions was something that was a basic, intuitive, and human function of a volunteer management role. We challenged managers of volunteers to think beyond this task and into more complex aspects of their role.We focused on encouraging great (and more professional) position descriptions. We’ve encouraged the integration of HR practice into volunteer management practice.

Now, years later, I’m hearing all about the match again but in a new context. It’s now often referring to the match of a skills based volunteer, or inspired by new technology like Volunteer Calgary’s sign up feature for volunteers, which allows volunteers to indicate their interest, create a short profile and wait for their perfect volunteer position to arrive in their inbox. I’ve got to admit, I’m back on the bandwagon. Matching is in!

Why? Ultimately the best HR and VM practices are nothing without a little chemistry. If the volunteer skills and interests don’t match the role, it doesn’t really matter how much time we spend coaching, supervising, creating process, policy, or position descriptions. Motivation isn’t created by perfect practice. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying these things aren’t important, but they don’t replace a good, old-fashioned, human connection to a volunteer’s passion.

How do you look for the spark? Do you think matching just making the rounds or is this trend here to stay?

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About Propellus

Propellus is a non-profit organization that has been empowering organizations since 1955. Through a dynamic range of consulting, training and member services, it helps organizations envision and realize new paths, practices and possibilities. Propellus guides, mentors and educates clients, arming them with tools and resources to help boost organizational effectiveness. Propellus strengthens organizations; in doing so, it leads the way toward building thriving communities.
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4 Responses to Volunteer Matching – Made in Heaven?

  1. 5kidswdisabilities says:

    You are definitely right that the “spark” needs to be there. Most people, I find, are “people” people, and there are so many volunteer activities that involve people. I know that sounds corny, but it is true!

  2. I think volunteer matching tools are definitely around to stay, but I would recommend that people not just narrow in on one opportunity. The key is for volunteers to find 3-5 positions that interest them, then contact the organizations and talk about how the org works, and what type of projects/role the volunteer will be doing. That way both the volunteer and the organization can benefit from a volunteer experience that is a good fit based on skills as well as personalities and organizational objectives.

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