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Working with Technical Volunteers


7 March 2005 at 12:03 pm
Staff Reporter
Obtaining a technical volunteer presents its own challenges for many Not for Profit organisations but the US group "Techsoup" has come up with a guide that can help.

Staff Reporter | 7 March 2005 at 12:03 pm


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Working with Technical Volunteers
7 March 2005 at 12:03 pm

Obtaining a technical volunteer presents its own challenges for many Not for Profit organisations but the US group “Techsoup” has come up with a guide that can help.

CompuMentor’s Techsoup “Working with Technical Volunteers: A Manual for Nonprofit Organizations” is designed to help organisations and schools:
– assess how a technical volunteer can help
– write up a job description for a technical volunteer
– and best manage the project and document the work that they do

Many NFP’s do not have enough time, expertise, or funding to use technology in all the ways they would like. Technical volunteers can fill the gap by tackling projects that in-house staff cannot handle, and that do not require paid consultants.

Nonprofit organisations and schools seem to keep their computer systems going the same way they keep everything going: a few really creative, resourceful people take charge and perform miracles!

Techsoup says even groups that have successfully involved volunteers in their work sometimes run into problems when asking volunteers to work on
technology issues.

It says recruiting and managing technical volunteers can be intimidating, especially when staff people do not fully understand the work that techies do.

In addition, it says organisations must balance the benefits of technical volunteers’ help with the need to establish sustainable, consistent computer support.

After 13 years of recruiting, matching, and managing technical
volunteers, CompuMentor’s Techsoup has developed an effective methodology with several key ingredients to a successful technology volunteer project.

This manual is designed to help organisations and schools:
1. assess their technical needs and identify areas in which
volunteers can help
2. recruit technical volunteers, assess their skills, and screen them;
3. manage technical volunteers
4. document the work that is done
5. find resources that will help throughout the process

The manual describes sequential steps in the technical volunteer process. Whenever possible, it provides specific examples from to help you see how other organisations have worked with technical volunteers.

It offers work sheets, or templates for planning and documenting your project.

The worksheets include:
– technical volunteer questionnaire
– technology inventory for your organisation
– ways to document your technical projects, whether you are working with consultants, paid staff, volunteers, or all three

The manual is offered as a free download from TechSoup, which recommends keeping both the templates and completed project documentation in a central location.

You can visit the TechSoup website at: www.techsoup.org

Or if you would like a copy in FDP format just send us an email with the words ‘Working with Technical Volunteers’ in the subject line to probono@probonoaustralia.com.au.



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