The social work sector entails dealing with numerous volunteers and its activities require monitoring and efficient management. Volunteers include young, old, educated and non-educated individuals, as well as individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds. The GEMS Model of Volunteer Administration was introduced in 1998, and its aim is to coordinate and manage the efforts of volunteers in organizations (Culp, 2012). This model plays a vital role in assisting in the effective coordination of volunteers and is represented in a spiral diagram meaning that the process is unbroken. This model comprises of 18 stages, which are categorized in different groups. The goal of this paper is to defend the GEMS Model of Volunteer Administration as an essential tool that can be used to attain the objectives of volunteer organizations.
According to Safrit and Schmiesing (2012), every society requires volunteers and in particular with the rapid expansion of extension programs. There is a need for extension administrators to develop expertise in volunteer management to ensure that the goals of the organizations are achieved. GEMS Model of Volunteer Management provides administrators with a viable and rational strategy for acquiring and sustaining volunteers. This model applies to all volunteer organizations regardless of the mission, culture, and the nature of the volunteers (Culp, 2012). Nevertheless, the administrators do not take part in delivering of roles and their relations with the volunteers remain hierarchical. The broad categories of the model include generating, educating, mobilizing, and sustaining, as depicted in Figure 1 below.
Figure 1. The GEMS Model of Volunteer Administration, with labelled categories. Adapted from “Overview of the GEMS model of volunteer administration: Generate, educate, mobilize, and sustain,” by K. Culp III, 2012, Journal of Extension, 50(6), p. 7.
There is a necessity to conduct an evaluation to verify the contribution of the volunteers to the organization as the programs begin, which represents the generating category. After identifying the purpose of the volunteers, it is important to provide role descriptions where volunteers need to be recruited to fill those roles. Just like other positions, volunteers need to be interviewed to acquire the best ones that are prepared for the task. Interviews are important because both the potential volunteers and the organizations get the opportunity to determine if they can work together. Through interviews, the administrators get a unique opportunity to study the attributes of the candidates. These are difficult to identify from resumes. It becomes easy to examine the personalities of the potential volunteers. Hence, the organization effectively enrolls individuals that are best suited for the role from the pool of potential volunteers.
On the education category, volunteers are offered with the required skills to execute their roles through teaching. Also, they should be provided with in-depth orientation culture, policies, and other important details about the organization. After education, the volunteers need to be engaged in their role. Most importantly, the volunteers need to be motivated, and it includes addressing the concerns of the volunteers (Brudney & Meijs, 2014). Also, the volunteers need to be supported and be provided with the necessary information on the effective use of the budget in ensuring the roles are performed cost effectively. That is why administrators, managers, and top volunteers play a vital role in establishing a dynamic work environment. Volunteer training and orientation ensures that the organization is formalized. For the administrators, it ensures that the organization can offer adequate support to the volunteers. Also, documented policies facilitate the maintenance of a steady pattern of volunteer engagement.
Support may be in various forms and training, and orientation is an important form of support. The nature of volunteer work varies; nevertheless, orientation is an important aspect for all new persons in every organization. Moreover, training ensures that the volunteers possess the adequate knowledge to conduct the assigned roles. After the volunteers get settled within the organization, further training is an aspect of great consideration. It ensures continuous development of the volunteers and presents them with growth opportunities within the organization. It prevents boredom and burnout among the volunteers through constant growth to face new challenges. After the educating category, the model presents the mobilizing category (Culp, 2012). It means that the volunteers get down to the roles they are expected to execute. In this stage, constant motivation is required to ensure that volunteers remain focused on the organizational goals. Different volunteers require varying levels of supervision depending on their capability and knowledge. However, guidance is obligatory to ensure that volunteers are led towards the right direction.
The sustaining category is broad, and it includes the assessment process. It means that the output of the volunteers is assessed to measure if the goals are being achieved. It is important to provide a documented process of policy-making and other key activities such as promotion. Documented policies play a vital role in reducing disengagement of volunteers. Assessment is a continuous process, and the administrators should work hard to keep productive volunteers. Feedback on the nature of the services leveraged by the volunteers should be provided by the clients, colleagues, and the administrators. The major role of the assessment process is not to get judgmental, but to determine how far the organization has moved towards the achievement of its goals. It means that it becomes easy to determine areas that require improvement. Effective appraisals present administrators with a unique opportunity to discuss important aspects of work with volunteers. Research has indicated that effective performance appraisals are beneficial to both the administrators and the workers. It is because the two parties can present solutions to existing challenges with the aim of enhancing productivity. At times, this is the only opportunity that many volunteers get to interact with the administrators. Individuals who do not conform to the needs of the organization may disengage themselves and engage in other things.
This model also presents the aspect of recognition and appreciation under the sustaining category. Just like it is the case for any other workers, recognition and appreciation is an important aspect for volunteers. It is imperative to make sure that volunteers feel that their efforts are appreciated. Also, they need to feel that their abilities are of great importance to the organization. There are many ways of recognizing volunteers. For instance, it is important to ensure that volunteers receive organizational newsletters. When volunteers are updated on important events of the organizations and other aspects such as open opportunities, they understand that they are vital elements within the organization (Culp, 2012). It is evident that recognizing volunteers in the aspects of the organization enhances commitment to their roles.
On the other hand, retention is given great significance in this model. Retention is imperative because it facilitates stability of the organization. The experience of the volunteers plays a vital role in determining the period they will stay in the organization. Hence, it is important to consider retention strategies from the instance volunteers join the organization. High retention is experienced when the needs of the volunteers are effectively addressed. Organizations experience significant benefit from employee retention approaches (Hong, Hao, Kumar, Ramendran, & Kadiresan, 2012). When many volunteers leave the organization, it becomes expensive due to the process of volunteer replacement. Moreover, retention is an important aspect of maintaining constant productivity. The process of recruiting new volunteers is time-consuming and may disrupt the organization processes in various ways. During recruitment, administrators should provide the volunteers with a rational view of the nature of work to facilitate retention. Also, retention strategies are important for these organizations as they assist in employee motivation through the creation of a favorable work environment.
In summary, this paper has proven a significant role of the GEMS Model of Volunteer Administration as an essential tool that can be used to attain the goals of volunteer organizations. From the arguments presented in this paper, it is apparent that this model is the most reliable tool for use in a volunteer organization. The GEMS Model considers the aspects associated with the modern volunteer programs and facilitates the development of an effective work environment for volunteers. This model comprises of 18 phases that are grouped into four broad categories that illustrate the continuous nature of the volunteer programs. It is no doubt that this tool is vital for the achievement of organizational vision through effective management of volunteers. This model is easy to implement regardless of the nature of the organization. Also, it can be incorporated at any stage depending on the organizational needs. With this program, it is easy to follow up the volunteer program to determine its current stage. This model presents a successful strategy for how volunteer organizations can execute their mission while at the same time ensuring volunteer growth.
Brudney, J. L., & Meijs, L. C. (2014). Models of Volunteer Management: Professional Volunteer Program Management in Social Work. Human Service Organizations: Management, Leadership & Governance, 38(3), 297-309.
Culp III, K. (2012). Overview of the GEMS model of volunteer administration: Generate, educate, mobilize, and sustain. Journal of Extension, 50(6), 6-10.
Hong, E. N. C., Hao, L. Z., Kumar, R., Ramendran, C., & Kadiresan, V. (2012). An effectiveness of human resource management practices on employee retention in institute of higher learning: A regression analysis. International journal of business research and management, 3(2), 60-79.
Safrit, R. D., & Schmiesing, R. (2012). Volunteer models and management. The Volunteer Management Handbook: Leadership Strategies for Success, Second Edition, 1-30.
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