Managing Staff and Volunteers
To deliver on its vision and mission, nonprofits need
good people management. It is essential that those
working in a nonprofit are managed effectively and
that they perform optimally while developing personally through their jobs. This process starts with
recruiting the right people for the right job.
Selection and recruitment of staff and volunteers
Finding the right staff or volunteer to do the job
right is an important process in running a nonprofit.
Careful consideration needs to the kind of person,
experience and commitment of those to be offered
employment or volunteer opportunities in the organisation.
We recommend the following steps:
- First analyse what your organisational
needs are. Your strategic plan would
determine what your needs are. It is
important to develop a proposal for
recruiting staffs and volunteers for the
consideration of the Board (Trustees) who
then assess this against available financial
resources and strategic aims
- Draw up a job description for the
post. As soon as the Board has agreed to
your proposal to create the job positions
and functions, you will need to draw up a
job description and person specification
(skills and experience needed to deliver the
specific responsibilities). All staff (including
volunteers) whether old or new regardless
of the number of hours spent in the
organisation must have a job description.
This job description must be reviewed
annually to ensure it continues to reflect the
work plans of each individual staff.
- Advertise the vacancy. It is a good
practice to advertise the post widely both
within and outside the organisation. You can
advertise on the organisations website, social
media pages, organisation’snewsletters, flyers
shared at conferences etc.
- Selection panel. You will need to set up
a selection panel made up of diverse, high
quality individuals’ based on the nature of the
position. Note that the Board is responsible
for the selection of the executive director.
For senior and middle level posts the
executive director and at least a member of
the Board should be part of the selection
panel. A member of staff can also be on the
panel and can be rotated amongst staff so
that all employees have the opportunity to
develop selection and recruitment skills.
Having an external person from your
partners, other NGOs etc can also help bring
different perspectives to the recruitment.
- Shortlisting the right candidate for
interview. If the skills and experience the
organisation wants for the job is well thought
through and specified in the job description,
shortlisting the right candidate for an
interview will be easy. A list of essential and
desirable competencies, skills and experience
should be developed, discussed and scoring
modalities agreed by the panel.
- Interview. While you can conduct your
interviews in any format that you want, it is
important to ensure that every candidate
goes through the same process in order to
ensure fairness. It is good practice to inform
the candidates what form the interview will
take and the date.
- Selection. As soon as all candidates are
interviewed, members of the panel should
meet to compare grades given to each
candidate and discuss their observations.
The panel should usually be able to easily
agree on a candidate for the job through this
process however in case they are unable
to they can gather again the following day.
Note though that the recruiting manager’s
assessment counts and is final.
- Inform the candidate. All candidates
interviewed for the post deserve to be
contacted on the outcome of the selection
process whether they have been successful
- Referencing. Before giving the candidate
an offer, two references should be sought
(with one of them being the candidate’s line
manager) to comment on the candidatesPage-37
suitability for the job. Following a satisfactory
referencing, a job offer can be made.
- Employment offer. The employment offer
will come inform of a letter of appointment
stating rates of pay and when it is paid. Tax
and other statutory deductions, period of
probation and how salary increments are
- Contract. This is an important document
that new and all staff members or volunteers
should read carefully, ask questions to
understand clauses and kept in a safe place.
The contract would include text on:
- Induction and probation period
- Hours of work and core hours
- Salary and remuneration
- Subsistence and travel expenses
- Annual leave and other leaves
- Secondary employment
- Notice period
- See xx for a sample contract
How staff and volunteers are managed determines
the organisation’s success and the level of impact
it can make. It is critical that an organisation puts in
place a performance management system that it will
use in appraising its staff and volunteers quarterly and
annually on how each staff member is performing on
his or her job according to agreed work plan. Staff
development is an integral part of the performance
management process through which employees existing skills and knowledge are built so that they can
deliver effectively on the job.
The performance management process helps to
detect poor or underperformance and to create
steps to address them. It is the responsibility of the
line manager and in small organisations the executive director to let the employee know what aspects
of his or her performance needs to be improved,
how and when this should be done. The employee
must be made to understand that the improvements
needed will be assessed and measured at an agreed
date when his or her progress will be reviewed. Employees must agree to the assessment verbally and in
Read more on performance management here https://www.ok.gov/opm/documents/PMPHandbook.pdf
Having in place staff development plans ensures that
the organisation can retain staff and that individuals
working in the organisation perform optimally. Staff
development involves improving each staff’s existing
skills, competencies, knowledge and ways of working
so that they can perform better at their job. Staff development does not necessarily need to be expensive neither should it be formal training, workshop
or short courses only. It can be in form of mentoring,
coaching, on-the-job experience, sharing ideas, skills
and expertise with colleagues, reflection exercises
on what worked well and what did not and through
It is important for an organisation to have a system in
place for how staff/volunteers can raise their concerns at work including bullying and harrassment.
They must be taken through how to use this process
so that they can understand it. Usually this system
is created and documented in a grievance policy.
Allowing staff/volunteers air their grievances shows
the organisation’s commitment to openness, probity
and accountability. Further to this, it allows for free
flow of information and idea including innovation
amongst staff members. It is important to let staff
members know that when their concerns are raised
in good faith, the organisation will protect them from
consequences however frivolous, malicious or concerns raised for personal gains will attract disciplinary
Employees should also be able to share any serious
concern they have about the conduct of the organisations business or about the conduct of other employees, Board (Trustee), consultants etc though a
whistle blowers policy. See example of a whistle
blower policy here https://bit.ly/2LkuE5V.
Examples of serious concerns include:
- Any action against the organisation’s policies
or below standards or code of practice
- Any action against the law
- Health and safety risk
- Misuse of organisation resources
- Corruption or unethical conduct
- Abuse of beneficiariesPage
All concerns must be treated in confidence with
every effort made to protect the identity of the
employee raising the concern if he or she wants to.
Whistleblowers may however be required to act as a
Disciplinary Procedures and Appeal
Before starting work with the organisation, all new
employees and volunteers must be encouraged to familiarize themselves with the disciplinary procedures
that exist in the organisation. This procedure should
apply to all staff including the Executive Director. The
disciplinary procedures should also give room for appeal which would usually be in writing and reviewed
by an appeals panel that is neutral and has not been
involved in the disciplinary procedure. They may be
nominated from outside of the organisation. All disciplinary action taken on staff members or volunteers
should be filed for a specified period of time.
All of the above, from selection and recruitment,
performance management, staff development, raising
concerns and disciplinary procedures are best developed into one policy document called staff handbook
or human resources management policy
A good office management practice provides a foundation for a well-grounded administrative base that
ensures smooth delivery of the organisations activities. To successfully achieve this an organisational
structure is needed. Through an organisational chart,
the organisation shows lines of authority and delegation of duties, how work is shared, increases ownership when staff members can see themselves in the
structure, shows stakeholders and visitors how the
organisation is structured and its main areas of work.
Stakeholders, beneficiaries and the general
public communicate with an office in these ways:
- Visit to the office
- Through the telephone
- Through emails, letters and on your social
It is important the organisation has in place communication systems that can accommodate this. They
can do this by:
Internally, staff members communicate
- Ensuring that there are signposts outside
of your office with the name, office/visiting
hours and contact details so that visitors can
easily locate you. You can also place your
organisation on Google maps.
- Have signs giving direction to the reception
and main entrance area
- If in a big facility, label individual offices with
name and job titles so that visitors can easily
find their way
- Put organisation brochure and annual report
at the reception area for visitors to read
- Display organisational structure chart,
mission and vision statement and clause on
anti-money laundering and countering of
terrorism financing as required by the law.
- Ensure your office is disability friendly
each other through meetings, conversations or by
sending email. It is important to hold staff meetings
regularly (once a week, bi-monthly or monthly).
Project staff may also hold separate meetings to
discuss project and programme related issues. The
finance and administrative team are also free to
meet separately to discuss administrative and finance
related issues. However meetings must be kept to a
minimum to allow time for the real work to be done.
To improve office relationships,
the organisation should work with its staff to develop a list of
good office discipline that they would like to have
in place to guide them on a daily basis. Once this is
debated and agreed, it should be adopted by the
organisation and included in the organisations staff
handbook or human resources management policy.
An efficient filing system
is the hallmark of a
solid administrative system where documents are
easy to find and are kept in order in a secured place.
It makes organisational and regulatory reporting easy
and seamless. Using filling cabinets, the organisation
must do routine filing of the following information:
- Agenda and minutes of meetings of
the Board including reports and papers
presented to them
- Annual financial reports, quarterly financialPage-39
reports, monthly statements
- Annual reports
- Strategic plan, work plans and annual budgets
- Human resources documents- Job
descriptions, staff CV’s, contracts,
performance appraisal, leave records etc.
- Project information, proposals, work plan,
timesheets, contracts and financial reports,
funders and reports
- Inventories, asset register, vehicle use and
servicing, generator use and servicing.
While all staff can access the information above,
those related to human resources are of confidential
nature and must be treated as such. The filing cabinets must be secured in a logical place at all times
with rules for accessing them clearly and transparently spelt out by the organisation.