VolunteerToday.com ~~ The Electronic Gazette for Volunteerism


  • Volunteer Today Presents New Resources for Working with Volunteers
  • Helpful Questions & Answers to Working Smarter, Not Harder
  • Do you have Meeting Savvy?
  • Random Tips to Efficient Work

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.

Helpful Questions & Answers to Working Smarter, Not Harder

Working with volunteers often requires 25-hour days. Here are some tips on working smarter, not harder.



How do I work best?


Ask yourself how you work best? Are you a plodder, with a steady slow rhythm? Or do you burn with energy and production for short spurts. The more you know about how you work, the easier to pace yourself. The Plodder needs to start on a project that is due in a month, today. They are bound to be interrupted and will need time to complete the tasks. The Sprinter needs to allow time between "bursts" to store up energy for the next burst.

How do I cope with reality?


The fact is that everyone has periods of unproductivity. This immobilizes some people. If this happens to you, have a plan. One volunteer manager who hits those low spots has learned to clean files, her office, and her closets when it hits. That hands-on work somehow provides the respite needed for her to re-energize.

Do I plan for problems?


Any work effort is bound to hit snags. Having a back-up plan is essential. If you have 30 days to complete a task, set the deadlines at 22. That provides 8 days for crisis management. It also means backing up work. Here at VT, a recent glitch with a computer disc, made us all realize we need copies of things on the computer, on a disc, and on paper. The catastrophe is half as painful that way.

Do work assignments interfere in productivity?


Anyone working with volunteers needs to educate their supervisor to the challenges of the job. Take every opportunity to help that person understand how dragging you away from your regular duties make it difficult for you to perform up to expectations. Look for opportunities to clarify your job description or policies that impact on your ability to work "smart," not hard.

Do you have Meeting Savvy?


  1. Do you prepare, think about outcomes, and leave with a plan? The POP method of organizing meetings involves three things, Preparation, Outcomes, and Plans. Preparation means getting ready for the meeting; prepare an agenda, send material to be used at the meeting out in advance, and have equipment you will need. Outcomes are the results you expect from the meeting. Plans are what follow the meeting that will fulfill its purpose and outcomes.
  2. Do you involve others in taking a leadership role during the meeting? Meetings work best when everyone has something to bring to the table. As you prepare the agenda, think about whom, besides you, can present information, describe a project, solicit advice, or address a sticky issue. Coach them to come to the meeting to do what you have asked.
  3. Do you head off problems by providing information? Ask people at the meeting if they have enough information to make decisions, or if they have other concerns. You can also inquire what needs to happen to improve the meeting for individuals. This feedback means people have an opportunity to raise issues, rather than hold back and get more frustrated as time goes on.
  4. Do you use problem-solving techniques to move the group forward? Many groups hit roadblocks. If they are tackling a problem the talking can go on with little forward progress. Meeting savvy means using problem solving "tricks" to move the discussion off dead center. Try this one: Use easel paper to answer Four W's and H. What occurs? Who's impacted? Where does it happen? When does it happen? When does it occur and when doesn't it? How does it happen?
  5. Do you use different techniques to head off disagreements? If the group is beginning to spar about issues, try techniques to make sure everyone is listening and not just formulating his/her next argument. One good way is to say, "Nobody can offer a comment, until he/she has paraphrased what the last speaker said. . .to that person's satisfaction."
  6. Do you have quick and easy means for members to remember what they agreed to do before the next meeting? Buy the brightest color 3X5 cards and ask people at the meeting to write their assignments on the card. It is easy to post on a bulletin board or refrigerator. Another person takes heavy stock paper and has people make bumper stickers to remind them of what they agreed to do at the meeting.

Random Tips to Efficient Work


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 Sites You'll Love. Look for the Washington State University listing. There is a hot link to their Web sites.


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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Copyright by Nancy Macduff.

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