Should I turn away volunteers?

From time to time we have volunteers contact us looking for a short-term commitment, and we do not have those opportunities available.  What can I do to keep them interested in the organization?  

Not everyone who contacts our organizations is going to become a volunteer there. Both the volunteer and the organization have to benefit from the match, and in some cases, it isn’t possible. However, successful volunteer engagement also includes how volunteers who cannot be placed in the organization are treated. In the case of someone looking for a shorter term commitment that an organization doesn’t have a need for at the moment, this can change in the future, and a match would be possible.

Given that this possible volunteer contacted the organization about how to get involved means s/he has an interest in the organization’s work. Perhaps the volunteer can be added to the organization’s mailing list? Yes! Could the volunteer be notified as soon as a new opportunity becomes available? Yes! Could the volunteer be referred to the local volunteer centre to find the right position? Yes!

At the same time, more and more volunteers are looking for shorter term commitments, and it is up to organizations and managers of volunteers to create or adapt positions that address this trend. This can include splitting positions into smaller ones, shortening the length of a minimum commitment, researching the organization’s needs periodically to identify where shorter term volunteers can fit, and inviting current volunteers to give their feedback.