Managing the field work

(previously: Finding and preparing volunteers)

The role of the volunteering program manager is to create conditions that encourage volunteers to want to do their work. His/Her task can be very simple or very difficult. Planning the work involving the volunteers is the first step that ensures that this role will not be so hard.

Once we have a group of volunteers that must be at least 15, we can begin their integration into action.

At this stage we can define the commitment that each party takes (host organization and volunteer); we can define the operating rules of the group and we can plan the field actions.

1st step – contact with the schools

At this stage we must be sure that the school or schools we want to work with are ready to receive the volunteering work. Before we make the volunteer recruitment we must contact the school/s and present them the project. If they agree to make part of it we may ask the school board to sign an agreement with the roles of the school and the roles of our organization. The role of the school is very simple: there must be a representative that it will be our contact for the implementation of the activities. This person must contact the teachers and ask them if they want to receive the volunteers and at what day/s and at what time.

Then, this representative sends to the coordinator of the volunteers the identification of the teachers that are interested, their contact, their schedules, the class/es and dregree/s and, whenever it’s possible, the thematic they are interested in (bullying, dating violence…). Something like this:

Proposals for volunteering in the classroom


Teacher responsible for articulation with volunteering coordinator:
Direct telephone number:

Name of the teacher Contact (email and phone number) Class/ degree/schedule


2nd step – registration of the volunteers in the sessions

Having the teachers’ schedules, we must create a chart with the monthly proposals and send them to all the volunteers so they can choose the sessions.

This is an example of the chart:

Proposal for January 2018

School Day/hour Volunteers Information Notes
Name of the school Wednesday, 12th January

From 12:00 to 13:00

Meeting point and time: NGO at 11:40 or school at 11:55

The volunteers choose the session/s for which they are available and put the name in the corresponding box Context: class room

Participants: 7th degree students; group of 26 persons

Name of the teacher:

The teacher asks for a session about bullying


From our experience, we should collect from volunteers their availability and schedule a number of monthly sessions appropriate to that availability.

There are some rules for volunteer’s registration:

  • Each session will have at least 2 registered volunteers and a maximum of 4 volunteers
  • Entries are in order of arrival
  • If a volunteer cannot participate in the session in which he/she registered, he/she must give at least 24 hours notice

3rd step – the contact between the coordinator and the teams

After the registration of all the volunteers we can say that we have the teams for the sessions and it’s time to start contact with each team, one by one.

The first thing is to create a closed facebook group or other mechanism to make communication fast and easy.

After this we can send them the proposal of the program with the name and description of the games we intend to use in that classroom or group (if the activity is to be carried out at the school yard). We may ask the team if they feel comfortable with the games and if they want to make some suggestions (new games, changes in the games we proposed). We also have to show our availability to clarify doubts about the way the games are carried out. Often volunteers give suggestions about games and that is important for their motivation and involvement.

As we mentioned before, with this volunteering, we do not only want to promote the citizenship of the recipients but also the citizenship of the volunteers and so it is important that they do not feel that they are mere executors of tasks but that they give effective contributions in all the dimensions of volunteering.

4th step – the confirmation with the schools

When we have the sessions planed and the teams ready it’s time to confirm with the schools that we are going to carry out the sessions. It’s better, at this point that we send by email the program of each school (1, 2 or 3 sessions) to the respective representative and that we also contact directly by email the teacher/s who is/are going to receive the sessions. In this contact sometimes we get to know that in this particular class there are problems of bullying, or domestic violence, for example and it’s advisable that we adapt the sessions to that framework.

5th step – the session

All the sessions (at least the first ones) must be always accompanied by a social or a youth worker. Only when we confirm that the volunteers are comfortable with the issues and the methodologies we can let them go by themselves.

We have to make a flash meeting with the group just before the session starts. It can be at the NGO or at the front door of the school. The idea is to make sure everyone knows their role in the session. Also we give them the name tag they should use when they are at the school. (In Portugal, we have to identify ourselves at the front door of the school and explain what we are doing there.)

At the reception of the school we explain which teacher or representative we are looking for and we wait for him/her to come or the employee tells us the way to get to the place where the session is held.

When the group enter the class room all the students are very curious about what is going on. Sometimes the teacher explains them before the session that they will have this activity but there some teachers that think it is better that they are caught by surprise because they will be more spontaneous in their responses and attitudes. We can discuss this with the teacher before the session.

Either way, the session begins with the presentation of young volunteers who must say their name, what they do (whether they study or work or look for work). The coordinator present him/her self and the initiative and the games may begin.

Some teachers (most of them) want to stay in the class room and may also participate but sometimes they prefer to live. Both option are acceptable and both have advantages and disadvantages.

The coordinator of the volunteers has to make an effort to let them energize the activities, intervening only when he/she feels it is necessary.

At the end of the session he/she should ask the volunteers how they felt, what they liked the most, and what could be improved, in their opinion. (According to our experience this is the right moment to do this because if we ask them to send their opinions later, they can forget to do it or even forget the suggestions.) He/She may also give his/her opinion and make them feel that we are not criticizing but improving their performance.

NEXT: Coordinating, monitoring and evaluation