Peri Lynn Turnball shared with Volunteer Today an article she co-authored for the San Diego Daily Transcript on the International Year of the Volunteer 20001 and corporate volunteer programs. It appeared as part of a regular column she writes for the paper. You can read the article in its entirety at this new page dedicated to IYV 2001.
It is tempting to categorize volunteers or other staff. We like to understand those we work with. It is important to avoid judging and to be sensitive to how easy it is to slide into those habits.
No labels. It is very easy to say things like, "She really can't do more she just isn't a good performer." That seems like a way to describe someone that isn't nasty or mean, but that label may be inaccurate. Maybe the volunteer is in the wrong job for their skill sets, maybe a staff member has limited the type of work they can do, or maybe the training was inadequate for the individual. It is better to describe behaviors. "We have noted that you are getting fewer files finished than is our normal standard. Do you have any idea why that might be happening?"
No preacher needed. Lecture doesn't work with kids, staff, or volunteers. It can also undermine your credibility. The word "should" or "ought" need to be used sparingly. Being self-righteous, arrogant, or smug is not something that motivates volunteers or staff to greater levels of work.
Do not play doctor. You may have some notion about why a volunteer behaves in a certain, but keep them to yourself. Suppose someone rarely takes notes during meetings. Ordering them to take notes because you know that is the best way to learn the material could very well interfere with the learning style of an auditory learner.
Sometimes it is important to impress an individual or VIPs in order to meet the needs of a program or organization. Here are tips to make a "homerun" with your next power lunch.
Volunteers need to have good communication with their supervisor. The communication means that expectations are clear and the volunteer is doing what is expected and helpful to the organization. Here is a brief quiz to help volunteers know if the communication lines are up and running.
Directions: Read the statement below and indicate if it is true or false most of the time in your volunteer assignment.
_________ 1. I meet with my supervisor regularly to discuss my job duties and priorities for the organization.
_________ 2. I always accomplish a great deal during my volunteer shift, but am not sure my supervisor would say I have met his/her expectations.
_________ 3. When I lack the "tools" to do my volunteer task well, I make do rather than bother my supervisor.
_________ 4. My supervisor is aware of my other interests, than my regular volunteer job, has delegated interesting tasks to me from time to time.
Answering question 1 and 4 as true indicates that you and the supervisor are maintaining a high level of communication. Not only does he/she know what is important to the volunteer, but also the volunteer is working on the priorities of the organization.
If you indicated false for questions 1 and/or 4 then it is time to connect with the supervisor and ask about priorities and share what you need to help you be a better volunteer.
Answering true to questions 2 and 3 indicates a need to find out the supervisor's expectations. It might, also, be valuable to describe your normal work routine and get some feedback on how to improve it! It is also the perfect time to ask for the resources or tools that would help you do the job more effectively.
The Netherlands hosted the International Association
for Volunteer Effort conference in mid-January in Amsterdam. By all reports
the conference was a booming success. On January 16, 2001 the board of Directors
of IAVE urged the UN to declare this the decade of Volunteers and Civil Society
and to recognize the red V as the symbol of volunteering. They also adopted
a Universal Declaration of Volunteering, which VT has obtained and you can read
at its own page, Universal Declaration of Volunteering.
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.