Volunteering with a group is a great way to build teamwork with co-workers or have a fun day with family and friends. Some nonprofit organizations plan large volunteer projects that are geared towards groups. Other organizations are open to discussing ideas and planning special projects. There are several key steps involved in organizing a successful group volunteering activity. Start planning in advance and give yourself plenty of time to ensure a productive and fun day for all.
Talk to your group to find out what type of project they would like to do. Group volunteering project ideas include packing food boxes at a food bank, painting, neighborhood clean up, hosting or providing entertainment for a children's party at a family shelter and walking dogs at an animal shelter.
Gather logistical details. Ask volunteer group members about the dates they are available, the number of hours available for the project and special needs or limitations.
- Begin your search for a project. A great place to start is with a list of organizations that match with your group’s interest. Contact the volunteer coordinator or manager at these organizations and express your interest in a group volunteer experience. You may find a large volunteer project that is already planned, so all you have to do is gather your group and go.
- Talk with the volunteer coordinator from the agency for which you choose to volunteer. Ask a lot of questions about the project to make sure it is a good fit for your group. Ask about the reason for the project, number of people needed, specific tasks, skills required, recommended clothing, provided materials and tools and if refreshments will be available.
- Prepare a written communication for your volunteer team with important information such as the event date, start time, end time, agency name, full address of the project site, directions to the site, description of the agency and project, suggested clothing, supplies to bring and any other helpful details.
- Confirm all of the volunteering project details several days in advance. Call the nonprofit organization to verify the project. Contact all of the volunteers in your group to confirm that they will attend. Some projects require a minimum number of volunteers. If you have cancellations, you may need to adjust the game plan, recruit more volunteers or change the project scope.
- Plan to arrive at the project site at least 15-20 minutes early to ensure that everything is set up. Be at the entrance to greet volunteers and direct them to their task. Ask the agency if a representative can give a brief talk about the agency and how your project will help. Also plan to get feedback from the volunteers after the project. Have fun.
- If no project is readily available, explore how your group could offer something unique and worthwhile. Have a conversation or brainstorming session with a representative from an agency or organization – they are open to your suggestions and talents. Perhaps your group sees an unmet need – plan your own activity or event. Keep your ears and eyes open for special events in your community – help is always needed – and these are usually short-term, and often one-day commitments.
Tips & Cautions
- If you are planning a large volunteering project, schedule a visit to the agency in advance so you can see the project site and review the logistics in person. This will help you feel more prepared on the day of the project.
- Be prepared for potential glitches during the project such as running out of supplies or volunteers arriving late or not at all. Try not to get discouraged and use the challenges as a learning experience for your next group project.
- Plan for the weather - if the project will involve outdoor physical work be sure to prepare (water bottles, sunscreen, hats in summer or extra gloves & hot chocolate in winter).
- If there are children in the group, ask the agency's representative if there is a minimum age requirement for volunteers.
Check out these resources on effective group volunteering planning:
- Innovations in Employee Volunteering
- How to Organize a Group Volunteer Project
- Group Volunteering: A Guide for Team Leaders
- Planning Your Group Volunteer Activity
- Employee Volunteering: The Guide
- Making a Business Case for Employer-Supported Volunteerism
- Developing Employer-Support Volunteerism Policies