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Ask Connie

She is an experienced volunteer manager, consultant and trainer. If you ask her...she will answer ...read below for questions and answers related to volunteer management and administration.

Send questions to cpirtle@compuserve.com.



October Questions


Dear Connie:
I am looking for a resource of information pertaining to all-volunteer organizations. It seems that the challenges of this type of organization present some specific types of considerations. Is there a resource that you know of dedicated specifically to the all-volunteer organization? Thank you!



Dear M.M.:
I suggest you get a copy of Ivan Scheier's book, "When Everyone's a Volunteer: The Effective Functioning of All-Volunteer Groups." Visit Energize, Inc. to order a copy. According to the site, this book "provides an innovative framework for successfully leading an all-volunteer effort, whether it's a service club, community group, PTA, or religious congregation. Scheier challenges conventional wisdom about boards, fundraising, and membership development when applied to grassroots volunteer efforts. A highlight of the book is a collection of easy-to-conduct group interaction exercises." 1992, paperback, 63 pages, $15.95.

Dear Connie:
What do you think of an idea to get Official 2001Volunteer "benefactors"? We could offer bronze donors for $10, silver donors for $25, and gold donors for $100. Volunteers are an integral part and work in almost every area of the festival. We want to give them some incentives and special "thank you's." Their money will go to anywhere from defraying the cost of postage to helping with complimentary refreshments for them during the festival. We could target local businesses in and around the festival site to start. Do you think this would be a reasonable project to look into and can you add any more ideas to this?

Linda C.


Dear Linda:
I like this idea very much. I've found that adults of all ages LOVE to get pins, buttons, etc., so I'd suggest that this be the way you recognize the donors at the event. These 2001 benefactors can proudly display their pin, button, etc. even outside of the event. Just be careful that you don't ask someone to be a $20 benefactor when they have the means to be a $120 donor.

Dear Connie:
When using volunteers for a special event, such as a fundraising event like a "run," do you have each person complete one of your regular applications for volunteering? Do you give your program's full orientation or a shortened version just so the episodic volunteer has the facts about your mission, philosophy and purpose of the event? If someone brings a friend along who does not wish to participate in the event but wants to lend a helping hand, do you find a job for them on the spot even though they are not registered or oriented as a volunteer for the event? Any info on episodic volunteers would be appreciated. Thank you!

Kathy M.


Dear Kathy:
My response is a long one, so make sure you're comfortable! First, let me address your specific questions:



Nancy Macduff has written an excellent book on utilizing episodic volunteers, "Episodic Volunteering: Building the Short-Term Volunteer Program." It's available for sale in the Bookstore on the VolunteerToday website. Here's a preview of what you'll find in it:

"Episodic Volunteers include anyone who gives service for less than 12 months. There are three categories of such volunteers:

Mind you, I don't think everyone should adopt my terms, but rather adapt them to their own program. The point of all this is that 41% of volunteers in the U.S. are doing it episodically (see Independent Sector's latest report). People who volunteer for different periods of time should be doing vastly different types of jobs. That means different types of recruiting, screening, training, supervision, and recognition.

I also believe we should be counting them separately. It is a way to illustrate to administrators and staff the challenges of a "work" force with different needs. The more you know, the easier to recruit, train, and oversee!"

Do you have a question? Now you too can ask an expert!

Connie Pirtle, of Strategic NonProfit-Resources, has 15 years' experience in working with volunteers. She has consulted and/or trained for such organizations as the Washington National Cathedral, Anchorage Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Music America, and the Association for Volunteer Administration.


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Copyright 1998 by Nancy Macduff.