VolunteerToday.com ~~ The Electronic Gazette for Volunteerism


  • Dealing with "Urgent"
  • Dressing the Part
  • Managing Volunteer Conflicts
  • Volunteer Today Presents New Resources for Working with Volunteers

Dealing with "Urgent"

Seems like everyone in the organization, staff and volunteers, have "urgent needs that pull you away from your list of tasks to be accomplished. Here are some tips to stay on tasks and deal with "urgent."

Post your priority list of projects. Make a list of the projects for which you are responsible and their time lines in a prominent place in the office. This helps people see the things on your "to-do" list, and also where their project is on your list.

Do not abandon your list of tasks to the person shouting the loudest. It is easy to abandon your own priorities when someone is yelling about their priorities. Do not give in because it sets a precedent that is bound to be noticed by everyone in the organization.

Ask that requests be specific. Insist that the "urgent" request be as specific as possible. For example, does this mean next Thursday for you or do I have to have it ready for delivery to the media by Thursday?

Negotiate a deadline. Pin down exact times based on your schedule, not the person requesting the help. This also requires diplomacy on your part, acknowledging how import the task is to the person with the "urgent" need. You might suggest that you want to do a good job for the person, but have to squeeze this in around other equally important priorities. Make sure that you get specific about time, place and level of completion.

Dressing the Part

Some organizations have dress codes for volunteers. In this day of "dress-down" Fridays, and more casual attire in the work place, it can be challenging to tackle the issue of attire. Here are some tips to help deal with volunteers who are not dressed to "code."


Managing Volunteer Conflicts

Volunteers can and do get angry with each other. Sometimes it threatens to erupt. Here are some tips to manage that anger:

Act immediately. If you hear raised or angry voices, step in and find out what is the problem. Separate the people who are in conflict. Talk to each one privately.

Get to the issue. Find out the reason for the unhappiness. Ask probing, but not threatening questions. "What can I do to help solve this problem?"

Give each person the opportunity to vent. Sometimes people just need to erupt in private. This is not the time for discussion or solution. It is the time to listen. However, if threats are made, you must cut in and stop it.

Offer your ideas about the issue. Do this without seeming that you are right and they are wrong. Try something like, "Here is how I see it . . . "

Monitor the situation. Check back with the volunteers to see how things are going. Be sure to inquire if the issue has been settled. If not, keep working to solve the problem.

Volunteer Today Presents New Resources for Working with Volunteers

Volunteer Today welcomes Canadian author, trainer, and consultant Linda Graff to its list of authors selling resources materials through the Volunteer Bookstore. Linda has prepared two books and one audio workshop on working with volunteers. These materials are dying to grace the shelves in your office and fill your brain with new ideas!

In addition to these new books and tapes on volunteering, the Volunteer Bookstore carries Helping Adults Learn and Change, by Russell Robinson. If you are training, this book is a must! Check out the descriptions below for all the new books. If you want to order any of these materials, please go to the Volunteer Bookstore.

Yes You Can! Discipline and Dismissal of Volunteers Audioworkshop
Linda L. Graff


Experience the energy of a live presentation in Linda Graff's spirited and pragmatic treatment of one of our toughest management issues ­ discipline and dismissal of volunteers. This audio cassette workshop will help you to discover the elements of rightful dismissal, master the steps and principles of progressive discipline, and learn how to decrease both personal and organizational risks in all of your discipline and dismissal actions. Gain both the confidence and skills to do what needs to be done!

Beyond Police Checks: The Definitive Volunteer & Employee Screening Guidebook
Linda L. Graff
This is a comprehensive "how-to" manual on volunteer employee screening. Loaded with practical tips, helpful cautions, and fully reproducible checklists and assessment tools, this comprehensive guidebook will lead you step-by-step to increased screening awareness and program safety. Don't wake up one morning to a tragedy and find yourself wishing you had paid more attention to the escalating liabilities and higher standards of employee and volunteer screening.
By Definition: Policies for Volunteer Programs
Linda L. Graff


Policies are critical in reducing risks and ensuring safe and satisfying volunteer involvement. This is a step-by-step manual on developing policies specifically for volunteer programs. The manual provides clear definitions of policies and procedures; outlines how managers of volunteers, boards of directors, and senior staff can work together on policy design; and includes working samples of policies in over 70 different topic areas. A key resource that will crucially inform the process of making policies for your program!

An Introduction to Helping Adults Learn and Change
Russell D. Robinson
 Robinson presents three elements that help organize adult learning. Chapters range from learning how to conduct learner needs assessment to arranging the room to more effectively deliver training. A nuts and bolts approach to the elements that make for effective training.


Close to 200 colleges and universities offer academic programs on nonprofit and volunteer sector management. They are usually master's degree programs, but not always. American Humanics sponsors undergraduate programs, as well. If you are looking to push out the professional development window, consider taking a course at one of these colleges. A full list resides at http://pirate.shu.edu/~mirabero. Thank Roseanne Mirabella, of Seton Hall University for keeping up with this list.


Washington State University offers a Volunteer Management Certification Program through the Internet. Individuals around the world can earn a certificate in managing or coordinating volunteers, without leaving home.

For more information, visit Volunteer Today's Portal site, Internet Resources. Look for the Washington State University listing. There is a hot link to their Web site.


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.

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