How to Become a Volunteer Coordinator

How to Become a Volunteer Coordinator

Being a volunteer coordinator would involve assessing and meeting an organization's needs through the recruitment, placement and retention of volunteers. You would be responsible for managing all elements of volunteering for your employer. 


There is no set path for becoming a volunteer coordinator, although having a relevant education and/or relevant experience is key to getting hired on.


Your work would likely be based locally and out of an office, but you'd have to travel locally to attend volunteering engagements, events and activities. You’d likely put in a normal work week with the odd early morning, late night or weekend, especially as volunteering events get closer. 


This work would be stressful at times, such as when events are drawing closer, or when funding is running low for projects. It would be very rewarding though, as the work of you and the volunteers you oversee would have a large impact on many people, animals or causes in general.


If becoming a volunteer coordinator sounds like it might suit you, then read on below; we’ll fill you in on what you’d be doing for a living, and what you need to do to get into this field!



Education Needed to Become a Volunteer Coordinator

There is not set path for becoming a volunteer coordinator; you can typically get into this work with a degree in almost any field. However, some fields may be more helpful than others, based on the field in which your organization volunteers, and in terms of developing job-specific skills.


For example, if working for an organization that helps with addictions, a degree in psychology will be highly relevant, and if volunteering for a dog and cat spay and neuter initiative, a degree in biology will have direct relevance. Or if working for a political party, a degree in political science or communications would be relevant and helpful.


In terms of job-specific skill development, having an education in a field related to human resources management, social work, or non-profit administration/management are arguably the most relevant degrees for developing the management, fund development, conflict resolution and leadership skills you’ll need to do this job, regardless of the field in which your organization volunteers.




Useful Experience to Have

Many employers will will require that you have relevant experience, and if you don’t have a degree in a related field experience will almost certainly be a requirement. In many cases, experience will even outweigh education in the eyes of the employer.


Employers will consider ‘relevant experience’ as any position wherein you perform functions similar to what they have listed on the job posting, or wherein you used the same set of skills and competencies, such as those listed below.


Success Tip: Some employers will value relevant experience over education in this field, although ideally you will have both.



Critical Skills You’ll Need

However you acquire them, whether through education and/or experience, you’ll need the following skills to succeed as a volunteer coordinator:


• Interviewing skills

• Training, coaching, team building and leadership skills

• Planning and administrative skills

• Marketing skills

• Conflict resolution skills

• Proficiency with Microsoft Office suite



Who Creates Jobs for Volunteer Coordinators?

You could potentially be employed as a volunteer coordinator with a not-for-profit, voluntary, public sector, or even private sector organization, such as (not an inclusive list):


• Human and social service agencies

• Animal welfare organizations

• Cultural organizations

• Leisure and sports organizations

• Schools and religious institutions

• Healthcare institutions

• Law, advocacy and political organizations

• Environmental and international development organizations

• Medium and large businesses with community relations departments



Career Advancement Possibilities 

If you display competence and dedication in your work, career advancement opportunities will open themselves up to you. Examples of career opportunities in this field include (but aren’t limited to):


• Becoming a volunteer manager (either with your organization or an outside employer)

• Moving across sectors, for example from non-profit into corporate social responsibility (CSR)

• Becoming self-employed as a contracted volunteer coordinator

• Becoming the director of your organization

• Starting your own organization

• Moving into a different field wherein you use many of the same skills, but develop new ones, such as human resources management



Is This Career Right for You?

You should have the following attributes if you’re looking to become a successful volunteer coordinator:


• A demonstrated commitment to volunteerism

• Strong interpersonal skills

• Excellent organizational abilities

• Initiative

• An outgoing, energetic and optimistic manner

• Comfort with public speaking

• The ability to balance the needs of the organization with the needs and interests of the volunteers

• Patience and tact when dealing with others

• A tolerance for ambiguity

• An interest in helping others

• An interest and commitment to developing and maintaining relationships with organizations that need volunteer services 






Details of This Career: General Job Description

As a volunteer coordinator, you would be responsible for furthering the mission of non-profit, voluntary and public sector organizations by recruiting and training volunteers, providing them with effective leadership, and by effectively managing volunteer programs.


One of your main responsibilities would be to manage volunteers and their relationships with those they come into contact with, including employees and service users of an organization. You would also assign volunteers to specific roles, and oversee, direct, support and evaluate them.


Please Note: If you're working for a smaller organization, you may have other duties as well, such as marketing & promotions, grant writing & fund development, as well as bookkeeping work.



Typical Job Duties

Your specific duties could vary from job to job. However, you could expect to be responsible for most the following functions in any volunteer coordinator role:


• Determining organizational needs that volunteers are able to fulfill

• Overseeing the recruitment of volunteers by creating and implementing recruitment strategies

• Developing orientation programs for new volunteers

• Identifying opportunities for volunteer engagement  

• Ensuring effective volunteer engagement

• Learning best practices from colleagues and other organizations

• Ensuring volunteer operations adhere to organizational and governmental regulations and legislation

• Providing volunteers with ongoing coaching and support

• Managing the budget and resources, including the reimbursement of expenses



What Kind of Salary Can You Earn?

The amount you could earn as a paid volunteer coordinator can vary greatly, typically depending on the following factors:


• Your professional qualifications (levels of education, experience, etc.)

• The size and budget of your employer

• The region in which you work

• The scope of your job duties and responsibilities

• Whether you are paid by the hour or a salaried employee


Volunteer Coordinator Salary- Alberta: According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working as part of the Social and Community Service Workers occupational group earn an average salary of $34,493 per year.


Salary in Canada: According to Service Canada, the average salary level of Canadians working in the Community and Social Service Workers occupational group is $39,300 per year.


Salary in the United Kingdom: According to the National Careers Service, the salaries of Volunteer Organisers are typically between £19,000 and £26,000 per year. With experience, these earnings can rise to over £30,000 per year.


Salary in the United States: According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage of Americans working in the Social and Community Service Managers occupational group is $63,530 per year.



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Typical Work Environment

Working Conditions: Your work would involve working closely with volunteers, other members of your organization, and also very closely with organizations that utilize your volunteer services.Your work can be stressful when assuring reliability on the part of the volunteer. Since projects and jobs are often dependent on short-term external funding, a you may feel anxiety related to job insecurity. Your work can be very highly rewarding when a job goes well.


Work Setting: Your work would be based out of an office or your home, although when working at volunteer engagement or event you could be working in a variety of settings, including hospitals, shelters, stadiums, conference centres, schools, or in other settings, including the outdoors. Since your work would be based at the local level, you would likely often have to travel locally to attend meetings or to attend activities, engagements or events.


Working Hours: As a volunteer coordinator you would likely work full-time (although part-time work may be available) during normal weekday working hours. These can vary widely though, especially during volunteer engagements, which may involve very early mornings, late nights, or working on weekends.



Careers Similar to Volunteer Coordinator

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to Volunteer Coordinator, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


• Animal Rights Coordinator

• Event Planner


• Grant Writer

• Human Resources Coordinator

• Human Resources Manager

• Non-Profit Administrator

• Non-Profit Foundation Manager



References for this Career Guide

The following resources were drawn from in the preparation of this How to Become a Volunteer Coordinator career guide:


• “Manager of Volunteer Resources.” (n.d.) OCCinfo: Occupations and educational programs. Alberta Government - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved July 20, 2016.

• “Social and Community Service Managers.” May 2015 edition. U.S. Government - Department of Labor Statistics. Retrieved July 20, 2016.

• “Volunteer Organiser.” (n.d.) Job Profiles. - National Careers Service. Retrieved July 20, 2016.

• “Job Profiles: Volunteer Coordinator.” Halder, Gemma. (April, 2015) Prospects. Retrieved July 20, 2016.



Scholarships for Becoming a Volunteer Coordinator

The Applicable Majors section below shows fields of study relevant to a career as a volunteer coordinator. You can search for scholarships matched to that/those fields of study on our All Scholarships by Major page.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely



Becoming a Volunteer Coordinator: Applicable Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point for becoming a volunteer coordinator, even if a degree in one of these areas isn't a formal requirement. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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