Each month, Volunteer Calgary chats with a manager of volunteers with one of our non-profit member organizations to share their personal success stories and best practices in the field of Volunteer Management.
With a background in Human Resources, the role of a Recruitment & Volunteer Coordinator was a nice fit for Emilie Tompkins, who has filled that role with Carewest since March of 2012. With her HR background Tompkins could have worked anywhere, but what drew her to Carewest was the fact that the organization’s values aligned with hers.
“Carewest believes in equality, life & workplace balance, team building and growth in education and personal development,” says Tompkins. “At Carewest, you are not a number but part of a bigger picture and it is an honour to be part of the team of exceptional people all with a common goal in mind to improve our community’s health care.”
As the Volunteer Coordinator, Tompkins is responsible for the strategic planning of Carewest’s volunteer program. She is actively involved in the design, implementation and delivery of their volunteer orientation, implementation of volunteer hourly tracking system and creating volunteer on boarding processes.
“In order to implement a successful and effective volunteer program, it’s important to develop a Volunteer Management Plan,” says Tompkins. “Outline your purpose and clearly define objectives and strategies. Focus on: planning, recruitment, selection and screening, induction, training and development, retention, recognition, managing, and evaluating. ”
Carewest volunteers play a vital role in the organization’s success. They offer specialized skills and knowledge, a diverse pool of experience, and contribute their time, energies and talents to help fulfill Carewest’s mission and meet its objectives.
“It’s important for you as a Volunteer Manager to encourage and promote engagement of both volunteers and paid staff within your organization to be successful in fulfilling the organization’s mission and meeting the organizations objectives,” says Tompkins.
Tompkins’ role is to make volunteers feel valued by ensuring that they are well-integrated into the organization and that their contributions are duly recognized.
“Carewest offers a computerized system solely for the use of volunteers for tracking their volunteer hours,” says Tompkins. “We provide lockers to store their belongings while volunteering, complimentary parking, a complimentary meal allowance to those volunteers who work a three-hour period over a mealtime, a free beverage for those who work over the coffee break period.”
As part of their recognition efforts, Carewest hosts an annual banquet for volunteers. “The banquets are themed and catered to recognizing our volunteers and their efforts throughout the year,” says Tompkins. “Last year, we had a total of 400 volunteers participate at our annual banquets.”
Tompkins coordinates volunteers with different skill sets and in various positions throughout the organization. Because Carewest caters to a vulnerable population, she stresses the importance of being clear about the qualities one looks for in a volunteer. Carewest values integrity, respect for diversity, and excellent communication skills. “[They must be able to] work professionally with individuals with significantly different values and life situations,” says Tompkins.
There are many reasons Tompkins enjoys working at Carewest: building new skills, meeting new people and having the opportunity to work with other caring and compassionate individuals–both staff and volunteers.
“There are an amazing array of skills and talent out there in our community. A diverse group of individuals, who all come from different backgrounds, have many different life experiences and yet they all have at least one thing in common, their willingness to give their time in helping others,”says Tompkins.
“It’s humbling to see the generosity, the spirit and compassion of Calgarians who so generously give their time, their warmth, their humour and care. Despite the everyday battles and time constraints, there are individuals out there still willing to share, care and understand by spreading love, comfort and joy, and willingly do it with a smile,” Tompkins says.
Tompkins’ Tips for developing a Volunteer Management Plan
“In order to implement a successful and effective volunteer program, it’s important to ensure that you have the following in order prior to implementation,”shares Tompkins.
Outline Purpose: Define clear objectives and strategies.
Key Areas of Focus:
Selection and screening
Training and development
Check out the Volunteer Calgary website to find out how you volunteer with Carewest.