by Maria Lahiffe
High-skilled, or pro bono volunteers differ from most volunteers in that they donate their professional skills. This is best known among the legal community, but really anyone with strong professional skills could provide them free of charge.
Here are some examples of professional skills which a volunteer could donate: 
The management high-skilled volunteers is based on the same foundational principals as all volunteer management.
There are some things which you should do differently, to make the most of high-skilled volunteers.  Basically, high-skilled volunteers typically behave more like contractors than staff, normally working independently on a project with defined outcomes; it is up to the volunteer to use professional judgement to develop the necessary processes.
Create a wish list of tasks that need to be, or could be accomplished. In addition to the examples above, other examples include: upgrade your computer network, develop a new strategic plan, rewire your electrical system, or develop training materials for new volunteers. Ask multiple stakeholders, such as board members, other staff, other volunteers, and clients, and don’t be afraid to think outside the box.
This should not be difficult because you can use the same systems you already have in place; however, you need to make some decisions. For example, will you screen high-skilled volunteers the same way you screen paid contractors, or the same way as your other volunteers? For your project wish list, above, decide for each one who the volunteer would report to. Make sure everyone in your organization, including management staff and board members, know what the systems are, for engaging high-skilled volunteers.
Let people know about your wish list. When interviewing potential volunteers, ask questions to make sure you have a good idea of the full set of skills and abilities they bring to your organization. They may be applying for one position, but have great skills for another.
The Volunteer Ottawa website is a great way to get the word out about potential projects which volunteers could take on. VO members can post unlimited volunteer job opportunities to our site, which gets over 10,000 unique site visits every month. Check out our website to learn more about membership.
Everyone who works for you, paid or unpaid, needs to be screened. You need to check their knowledge, skills, and personal attributes against the needs of the role. Here is a blog post about linking screening to position risk. Volunteer Ottawa offers a course on the 10 steps of screening. Click here for more information.
To paraphrase a famous saying, no project plan survives contact with reality. Schedules change, or project requirements themselves may change to fit changing circumstances. Be ready to reconsider plans if good information arises.
Volunteer Ottawa offers a full slate of courses on all aspects of volunteer management. Everyone is welcome to register. The best course to start with is Volunteer Management 101. Click here for a full list of courses.
Click here to register Tuesday, April 16, 2019. 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Click here to register Thursday, September 12, 2019. 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Click here to register Tuesday, November 19, 2019. 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
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