VolunteerToday.com ~~ The Electronic Gazette for Volunteerism

~ November 2001 ~
  • Coaching a Volunteer
  • Getting the Ear of Your Supervisor
  • E-Mail Consumes Time

Coaching a Volunteer

Some volunteers like to grow in their work. This desire to learn new skills and move from one level of another is especially true of the volunteer who wants a long-term relationship with an organization. This desire for growth means a staff member might be called upon to coach a volunteer in learning new skills. Here is a simple three-step process to move the person ahead.

Identity the skill the volunteer and staff member feel is appropriate for them to undertake.
This is where the people involved sit down and discuss the appropriateness of training the volunteer to become proficient in the new duties. Sometimes it is inappropriate for the volunteer to do something they might wish to do. For example, a Hospice Friendly visitor might wish to administer medication. Unless the person is a duly licensed registered nurse or physician, this is probably an inappropriate task.

 Set expectations to learn the new task
This step involves setting up a plan that outlines the things needed to learn the new task. The person agrees to a timetable, skill tests, training, reading, or whatever it takes to master the new desired job.

 Monitor progress
It is not enough to train someone, assume they are proficient and walk away . . .hoping for the best! The staff member must monitor the performance as the volunteer tests out the new found knowledge. This is the time for those tips, hints, short cuts, and pats on the back related to the new tasks!

Getting the Ear of Your Supervisor

Volunteer programs thrive in an environment of administrative support. That support is not accidental. Wise volunteer managers devise ways to build their relationship with the supervisor/administrator and thus that person's knowledge of the volunteer team is enhanced. Here are some strategies to help forge a positive relationship with the "boss."

E-Mail Consumes Time

Do you complain about your e-mail? Do your volunteers complain? Is the world complaining about e-mail? They have good reason according to a survey by Rogen International, reported in American Demographics September 2001. An online survey of 1400 senior and middle managers in North American, Europe, Asia and the Pacific revealed the following data.

    • Business people are spending an average of two hours per day dealing with e-mail.
    • 41% said it was their preferred form of business communication.
    • E-mail usage has jumped six-fold since 1995.
    • In 1995 the average employee send three e-mails per day and received five.
      • Today they send 20 and receive 30.
    • 68% of e-mail is related directly to a person's job.
    • Malaysia had the highest use of e-mail at 181 minutes;
      • The United States 122 minutes;
      • Canada 113;
      • New Zealand 112;
      • Australia 123;
      • Hong Kong 117;
      • United Kingdom 118;
      • Singapore 134.


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.

Copyright 2001 by Nancy Macduff.

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