The Nonprofiteer has been fascinated for the past several years by the uses nonprofits make—or fail to make—of highly-skilled volunteers, and has given a fair amount of advice on the subject to whomever will listen. But she’d be hard-pressed to produce a more careful, lucid, step-by-step account of high-skills volunteer management than that provided by Aaron Hurst of the Taproot Foundation in the new Jossey-Bass Guidebook Powered By Pro Bono. It includes worksheets to help clients develop projects that are suitable for volunteer assistance (and to identify those that aren’t); instructions on how and why to act like a paying client; and much, much more.
The only material omission is a discussion of how paid personnel feel about, and deal with, free assistance. As this must surely be a hot topic at an institution devoted to providing agencies with unpaid labor, the omission must be deliberate, but is probably unwise. Dealing with resentful staff is part of managing any high-skills volunteer project.
Still, if you’re a hard-pressed Executive Director (or Program Director, or Volunteer Coordinator), this will be the best $34.95 you could spend.