Volunteers tend to prefer being scheduled in one of two ways. Though some will want to be marked down on the calendar for weeks or months ahead of time, others will want to find out the week of or even the day before.
Planners typically are the volunteers who can do the marathon. They are able to volunteer for small amounts of time over a long period time and will want to have everything planned out ahead of time.
Of course the planners may want to only volunteer for one long task, as in the case of sprinters, but they will still want plenty of notice.
Planners value the organizations they serve and one way the organization can respect them is by giving them plenty of notice when scheduling them. Calling on planners at the last second repeatedly will sometimes aggravate and frustrate them.
Give planners notice and they will be generous with their time.
Last minute volunteers are less likely to plan ahead. They thrive on being flexible and making decisions rapidly. To call last minute volunteers the day before volunteering is not a problem. They sometimes even take pride in their status as “emergency help.”
It is important to give these volunteers the flexibility to say no when they are too busy. Give them space and do not overburden them with last minute calls. Make sure it really is an emergency. Part of what makes them tick is that they only want to be called when they truly have an important role to fill.