Managing Staff and Volunteers

Collaborations between artists and community are not in silos. They require many participants, often of diverse backgrounds. To ease the workload, include the community, and build community capacity, we need staff and volunteers.

Recruiting volunteers

Ideally, you will get to work with a community group that already has dedicated members. If there are not people who step forward to help, you’re going to need to find some.

Recruitment is most successful when there are clear expectations. What kind of volunteers are you looking for?

  • How many hours a week?
  • What skills do they need to come with?
  • What skills will they leave with by helping with the project?
  • What kind of tasks will they be asked to do?
  • Will they be working with vulnerable populations? Do you require child abuse registry check?
  • Does a criminal record matter to the project?
  • Is there an honorarium?
  • Who does the volunteer get their directions from? Who do they speak to if they require support and direction?

There are many places where an ad can be shared: posters, radio, online volunteer boards, newspapers and community events.

Recruiting employees

If you are hiring paid staff to assist with your project you will need to create a job description and identify required skills. You can advertise the position in the community, on local job sites and with local arts development organizations.

If you are paying an individual more than an honorarium, you will also need to consider important basic labour laws about:

  • Hours of work and necessary breaks
  • Minimum wage
  • Decide if they are going to be hired as an independent contractor or an employee. If they are independent, they are responsible for claiming the income and paying the tax on it. If they are an employee, regular deductions need to come off the cheque. Do you have someone who can do payroll?

A common area of frustration with community workers is unclear roles and expec- tations. It is very common for small projects to hire a casual coordinator but not to have the funds for a director or manager. At the very least, ensure you have the following:

  • Clear expectations about hours of work
  • Clear expectations about the physical workplace. If you are hiring an administrator, can you offer the individual a computer and a safe workplace or will they be working virtually from a home office?
  • Super clear expectations about who the employee reports to and what is expected when they report. Will there be regular in-person meetings or emailed status reports (how often, say biweekly)?
  • How will you ensure the work is being completed?

It is important to discuss and be clear about the work expectations in the beginning because if you hire someone and they expect a flexible schedule with monthly meetings, and after a few months you find office space, there are legal implications if your employee does not want to change the arrangement.

What kind of roles are you hiring for?

Beyond hiring administrators, there are three main areas for staff or volunteers to work in. This list is not exhaustive, but provides a sample of three job areas and some example tasks.

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