Volunteers need to be praised!Sometimes supervisors or volunteer managers think their efforts come across as insincere. Here are tips to help you be someone effective with a compliment.
Most volunteer managers are writers; newsletters, position descriptions; brochures; recruiting materials; grants, and the like. Here are some tips to help you be an effective writer.
* Begin writing by making a note of who is going to be the reader. This is not a vague notion about the reader, but who they are specifically. Instead of noting that you are writing for the "volunteers," describe the reader. "I am writing for our volunteers who are 73% female; with 20% between ages 20 and 30; 20% in their 40's; and the rest over 50. The male volunteers are 78% retirees." It doesn't hurt to jot this down. It helps you focus on your reader and use terms and language appropriate to the group. It can even help you select the most useful information to communicate.
*Headlines in newsletters or an attention getting lead-in to text are essential, it also works in grant writing. The attention getting device is designed to pull the reader in. It should be direct and detailed. "Five steps we must take to help our clients." This tells the reader the information is important and gives them a tool to remember the key points; five steps.
*Send a message early on about the purpose of the document. Is it to inform or must they act after reading it. If you want action, be very specific about how to respond. You must be able to answer those "who, what, why, where, when, and how much" questions. If you cannot answer them you are probably not ready to write.
Donald Kirkpatrick proposed four distinct levels of evaluation or training in 1959. This deceptively simple method of evaluating training is either loved or hated by professional trainers. It is easy to remember and collect data about to help with future training.
||Reaction||Ask for immediate response from learners. This is evaluation at end of training. Have them rate it. Was it useful or interesting?|
||Learning||With this level you need to determine if the volunteer actually learned what they were trained to do. Can they, for example, evacuate people from the building in the event of an emergency? The learner needs to be tested so they can actually demonstrate the skills and/or knowledge the training course was designed to impart.|
||Behavior||When the volunteer goes to their assignment after the training, do they do things in the manner in which they were trained? This is where the trainer needs to see if the volunteer is actually using the skills at the work site.|
||Results||These steps needs to assess the benefits to the organization because the volunteer is performing their tasks as they were taught to do. Here is where records from other parts of the organization need to be collected. Are more clients being served? Are more phones being answered? Are clients happier with the level of service? This is tangible benefits--by the numbers.|
Kirkpatrick maintains that different methods of gathering information are used at each level. He also says that information gathered at one level tells you little or nothing about success at another level. For example, volunteers at Level 1, might tell you they loved the trainer, had a good time, and found the session interesting. This information tells you little or nothing about Level 3. You must find a means to assess their behavior to determine if the training is effective.
The National Association of Volunteer Programs in Local Government (NAVPLG) is an association of administrators, coordinators and directors of volunteer programs in local government. Its purpose is to strengthen volunteer programs in local government through leadership, advocacy, networking and information exchange. NAAVPLG is an affiliate of the National Association of Counties and is seeking affiliate status with the National League of Cities.
Cost is $20 for individuals and $75 for group local government membership. An affiliate membership is $25 and is intended for those who are not local government members but may have an interest in the group. There is a quarterly newsletter, national network, and access to NACo's Volunteerism Project.
For more information contact Glenis Chapin, who is a member of the Executive Committee. She can be reached by phone at 503-588-7990. Be sure to mention you read about this in Volunteer Today.