VolunteerToday.com ~~ The Electronic Gazette for Volunteerism


V.T. readers ask questions about volunteer management and administration. Ask Connie, an experienced volunteer manager, consultant and trainer, provides the answers for all to see.
~ March 2001 Questions ~
  • Effective Recruiting Brochures
  • Resources for Firing a Volunteer
  • Public Speaking Tips

Dear Connie:
I am a new Manager of Volunteer Services for a liberal arts Christian College of 4,000+ students. I work with individuals who want to volunteer with our paid staff at the college in various positions. I would like to design a brochure to interest others in the communities who have ties to our school to volunteer. Do you have any suggestions of what others have used as far as wording goes to attract people to volunteer at their organization? Thanks for your help.



Dear Lois:
You're right to consider carefully what to put in a recruiting brochure. This may be the only "contact" you have with some potential volunteers, so you want it to be accurate, inviting, and reflect your organization in a positive way. Here are some things to consider:

* Use color if you can afford it; it catches the eye.

* Use pictures too because they speak volumes about what you're doing. If possible use a variety of shots that depict the diversity of your activities and your volunteers.

* Have a response mechanism, a tear-off piece that can be mailed in to apply or receive more information.

* List the benefits of volunteering (learn new skills, meet new people, have fun, free food, parking, etc.).

* List the requirements of volunteering (number of hours/days, computer skills, likes a challenge, whatever).

* Describe the volunteer opportunities available.

* Provide a brief description of your organization and what you do; remember you're pushing the volunteer opportunities not only your organization.

* Include information on how to sign up or learn more about volunteering for you.

Dear Connie:
I am attending a college in Canada in the Fundraising and Resource Development course. In my Volunteer Management course, I am doing a presentation and project on how to fire volunteers. It has been very difficult to find any examples or scenarios of how people have fired their volunteers. I was wondering if you had any examples that you would like to share with me. Also, I'd appreciate any suggestions you may have on how to effectively fire a volunteer, any articles you could send me, or even any good Web sites. Thank you so much for your help and input.

Catherine D.


Dear Catherine:
First check out CyberVPM., http://www.cybervpm.com. Click on "frequently asked questions" from the home page. Then scroll down to the questions on handling difficult volunteers and firing volunteers.

Next, check the bibliography at the Energize site, http://www.energizeinc.com. It's the world's largest bibliography on volunteerism. Do a search for resources on firing volunteers or working with difficult volunteers.

Dear Connie:
I'm doing a series of presentations to civic groups around the city about our organization and available volunteer opportunities. I'm not an experienced public speaker. What tips do you have for me to be successful?



Dear Marissa:
When you've got your presentation ready, you'll have the greatest improvement in a very short time if you remember these ten tips:

  1. Don't be afraid to pause. It takes time for listeners to understand you. Speak slowly and clearly at first until people get used to your voice.
  2. Don't fear repeating main ideas if you think they're important or someone has missed them.
  3. Stand if possible and speak at a level comfortable for all to hear. Be loud and clear, but not "staged" or affected. If they can't hear you and understand you, listeners will tolerate but ignore you.
  4. Conversational, not oratorical style is best. A polished speaker has little advantage over a humble but plain-talking person. Don't try to imitate a "great speaker's style" ­ you will only sound insincere.
  5. Don't apologize. If you are unprepared, everyone will know it. If you are scared, saying so will only make it worse by drawing attention to it. Don't dwell on negative feelings of fear or inadequacy. You'll always look better than you feel.
  6. Stick closely to your outline. If you lose your place, pause and look at your notes; then go on. Don't try to hide your confusion, but go on with the speech as smoothly as possible.
  7. Get off to a good start. Relax and breathe deeply before you start. It is easier to keep a steady pace than to start weakly and then catch up. Stand straight, but not stiffly. If you are balanced and comfortable you will look, sound, and think better.
  8. Gesture and movement should be smooth and controlled. Avoid sudden or jerky movements. Avoid overuse of the same gesture or mannerism ­ it can distract your audience.
  9. Use words that are clear, straightforward, and suitable for you, your listeners, and your subject. Avoid verbiage, profanity, loaded words, and slang.
  10. Develop a sense of form or structure in your speech. This means that you are aware of the introduction, main ideas, and conclusion. Also, a speaker sensitive to the need for listeners to digest/comprehend information develops the use of transitions that allow you to glide from one issue to another.

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.

Connie Pirtle
Strategic Nonprofit Resources
2939 Van Ness NW Street, Suite 1248
Washington, DC 20008
VOICE: 202-966-0859
FAX: 202-966-3301
Copyright 2001 by Nancy Macduff.

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