The Importance of Volunteers as a Human Resource in NGOs

Süleyman İslamoğlu
Deputy Director General, Turkish Red Crescent

In addition to the Turkish Red Crescent’s social aid and social empowerment activities, as a national society we responded to disasters such as earthquakes, floods, and fires with our professional personnel and volunteers. 

Volunteers as a line of human resource has become part of the volunteer management process of NGOs, which follow the public and private sectors and operating with the principles of volunteerism. 

The most significant part of the volunteer management processes that manifests in the field is that volunteer teams operate according to the institutional perspective and philosophy of NGOs. Therefore, the success of the volunteer teams and the volunteering process is interpreted as the success of the NGO. 

National and international NGOs have professional personnel as they conduct different activities in various places. However, the managing bodies of many institutions, including the Turkish Red Crescent, almost entirely consists of volunteers, and volunteer support is the driving factor in conducting their activities. Therefore, we can say that non-governmental organizations draw their strength from volunteers. Non-profit NGOs certainly cannot succeed without volunteers, no matter how large-scale they are. We should remember that NGOs are volunteer organizations established by people coming together to achieve a particular goal. Working with volunteers has some benefits, such as expanding the NGO shareholder network and field of activity, developing new networks, and extending the scope of the skills of the personnel. We, as the Turkish Red Crescent, try to achieve our goals by concentrating on working with volunteers and expanding our volunteer network. We announced 2021 as the “Volunteering Year” and set a 2 million volunteer goal. Apart from other human resources activities, this situation entailed additional activities to volunteer workforce, and the potential created by this workforce.

It can be stated that NGOs have a workforce variety consisting of wage workers and volunteers. Institutions should understand “variety management” and integrate it into their work process. 

Due to the wide variety of processes and fields of activities, our professional workforce needs support especially in disasters and emergencies. In such cases, having a solid volunteer workforce can make our actions effective and sustainable. 

As a result of this variety, volunteers gain some skills and competence such as self-actualization, sharing information, and gaining experience, while our personnel gains skills such as leadership, joint action, and effective communication together with sharing information. Mutual interaction between two groups creates a common synergy, and the Turkish Red Crescent gains dynamism and agility. The diversity and size of human resources is crucial for NGOs with the support of the volunteer workforce, and volunteers contribute to upward growth.

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