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7 Steps to Create Volunteering Work Plans That Work (Part II)

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Organization is essential to keep your volunteer effort on task. Part of planning effectively is creating volunteering plans that work. Doing so will ensure that your teammates always know where a project stands and what still needs to be accomplished. Furthermore, written volunteering plans will provide you with a record of all that you have done, which you can use to demonstrate your accomplishments, generate reports, or showcase your work to potential donors. There are many other reasons to keep this type of documentation.

In our last post,  “7 Steps to Create Volunteering Work Plans That Work (Part I),” we introduced you to the first three of seven steps to create volunteering plans that work. As a reminder, they are:

  1. Introduction (the “What?”)
  2. Purpose (the “Why?”)
  3. Action Steps (the “How?”)

In this post, we are going to cover the last four:

  1. Schedule (the “When?”)
  2. Budget (the “How much?”)
  3. Stakeholders and Leaders (the “Who cares?”)
  4. Outcome Assessment (the “When are we done?” and “How well did we do?”)

As you read through these, ask yourself how you can apply these steps to your organization. What are the specific details that will matter where you volunteer? How will you convey your message?

4. Schedule (the “When?”)

In this section of your plan, you are committing to accomplishing objectives by given deadlines. You need to be realistic about how long your action steps will take given your resources. If you have clearly outlined your action steps, filling in the schedule will be relatively painless, although it will require some experience in time estimation. If you have not lined out your action steps well, this section will be much more troublesome because it will be difficult to ascertain when milestones can be reached.

5. Budget (the “How Much?”)

“Budget,” in this section, is not limited to money; it also refers to how much your various activities will cost in terms of number of volunteers, number of hours of their time, and other resources (i.e., buildings and equipment). Creating your budget can also be painful and tedious, but it is necessary. If you are meticulous in preparing it, you can avoid unpleasant surprises later on, making for better work. This section is of course also needed for accurate and effective fundraising efforts.

6. Stakeholders and Leaders (the “Who Cares?” and “Who Is in Charge?”)

Who are the stakeholders for this particular task? Who cares and who should care? Who will be affected by the event or activity you are planning? You will want to share your plan with your stakeholders so they can evaluate it and offer input. Full transparency (sharing) is key to maintaining trust and efficiency.
In this section, you also need to establish who is responsible for each part of the work effort to be completed. Will there be leaders assigned to specific objectives? If so, you need to include this information. Your volunteers can then consult this information so they will know right where to go to if they require direction or assistance.

This is a very important section. There is nothing better than full transparency of responsibility to facilitate peer management.

7. Outcome Assessment (The “When Are We Done?” and “How Well Did We Do?”)

Before we even begin our tasks, we need to establish how we will know when they are complete and how we will assess them in terms of the objectives we originally set out. You should use qualitative and/or quantitative metrics. If we fail to define in advance how we will wrap up and assess the task, we may never be finished! We may never know when we are done.
And there you have it. Follow these steps, create great plans, and you will accomplish great things. It may take you a little while to get into the habit of writing volunteering plans, but you will be glad that you took the time to do it. See some work plan examples “Here” in this table listed as White Papers and Budget Docs.

Remember that great volunteer organizations rely on strong teamwork. Your volunteering plans can help to pull everyone together. In case you missed them, you may want to read my previous posts on “12 Steps for Creating Great Volunteer Teams,” “5 Ways to Achieve Team Success,” or “12 Ways to Maintain Highly Functional Teams.” You can also download the free eBook Volunteering.

Thanks for reading. Check back soon for more new content! Coming next—Celebration!

About the author: Karl’s volunteer management experience spans three decades. He recently retired as a chief strategy officer, after having implemented the strategic plan of a 1500+ employee service sector organization.  He is now a principal with Sunshine Valley Communications, He has taught courses in management, business and economics, operations research, and project management. He holds degrees in engineering and economics and is near completion of a second book on the management of highly competitive environments. Recently he has provided strategic planning, project management and technical assistance to numerous volunteer organizations and communities and has written extensively on the subject. Karl resides in the Missouri Ozarks and can be reached at