Building Strong Volunteer Relationships

All over the country, volunteers are serving their school districts and communities. Finding them isn’t the only task but managing and maintaining volunteer relationships canquickly become a challenge without the proper tools and resources.. Host Tyler Kern talked to a school official with a lifetime of volunteer experience. Chris Robinson, the Volunteer Program Supervisor for the Lake Washington School District, said volunteers are vital and functional to the success of any school. She added that in addition to teachers and administrative staff, volunteer relationships play a significant role in a child’s educational experience.

“Obviously, we want our kids to graduate, to be future ready, and be able to contribute to our societies. So, we want them to be successful, and volunteers being there every step of the way with academics and enrichment programs really do help to achieve that mission,” Robinson said.

The elements of success in building volunteer relationships
Robinson explained that there are several steps that must be taken to efficiently forge a strong bond with potential volunteers. A lot of that relationship building requires well-thought-out intentions and constant communication between teachers and parents about student needs. When specific areas of concern or assistance are needed, it makes for an easier recruitment process in volunteer outreach. Often, these potential volunteers are the parents themselves.

Managing and maintaining volunteers
Keeping track of volunteers is another important aspect of volunteer recruitment. Robinson adds that certain programs, such as the school’s lunch buddy program, almost ensures commitment from volunteers and facilitates management through applications and screenings, utilizing tools like Raptor Volunteer Management. It is a successful program in her district because it’s also managed by other parties.

“We do have a school site coordinator who is also monitoring these interactions between the student and mentor, and we just found this to be a successful program,” Robinson said.

Finding volunteers to build with
School districts intent on discovering volunteers should focus on knowing where to find volunteers and directly seeking their participation in school activities. Robinson talked about her past experiences, stating that one direct suggestion by her son’s teacher about selling clothing for her son’s school ultimately led to her becoming president of her PTSA board and dedicated to volunteering

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