WHEN TO LIMIT (OR AVOID) USING VOLUNTEERS

Leveraging volunteers can be a great way to shore up your team (5-tips-for-managing-volunteers), whether you’re using help within the community or just “borrowing” staff from another department. But there are some occasions when it might be better in the long run to curb the amount of volunteer assistance you rely on. Consider hiring additional staff, temporary workers, outside consultants, or vendors if…

…niche expertise is required. A “good enough” approach won’t cut it when your team is operating within regulatory oversight or compliance mandates, or—if you’re in a for-profit business and using employees from other departments—when your company’s competitive advantage is on the line. In these instances, it’s definitely worth it to know you have solid, credentialed (and potentially certified, if necessary) experts on your side. Remember, too, that post-project inspections or follow-up tasks could occur, and calling your volunteer back might be problematic.

 

…time is of the essence. Volunteers may be pulled in different directions unexpectedly (especially those on loan from another in-house group), and this could have a serious negative impact if you’re caught mid-project without sufficient help. Longer-lead tasks might still be a good place to use volunteers or borrowed personnel, but time-critical projects may call for resources that are more narrowly focused on your project and little else.

 

…highly sensitive information is involved. This may not apply to the use of folks from other parts of your organization, but if you’re a non-profit, you should carefully consider whether it’s a good idea to leverage external volunteers if there’s a concern about the potential release of confidential data. Non-disclosure agreements might get you through this hurdle, but your team must first determine if that’s a path they want to go down. It could be more prudent to use in-house resources or contracted consultants for sensitive tasks.

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