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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.
Send questions to AskConnieP@cs.com.
Return to 2002
~ April 2002 ~ Topics
- Perks Card for Volunteers
- Organizing a Church Fair
- Defining a Volunteer
- Volunteer Orientation -- The Essentials
I'm the volunteer coordinator for a preschool read-aloud program. I
once read about a hospital that had a wonderful idea about appreciating
volunteers that I would like to replicate. The volunteers at the hospital
were given a "card" (like a gift card) to four different retail
stores in the community, which included things like "a free dessert
at a restaurant or 10% off Hallmark purchases." I was wondering
if you've had experience with creating something like that for volunteers
and if you had suggestions of how to make the card "a reality"
for the volunteers in our program. Thanks!
Many organizations use the technique you described for patrons and visitors
as well as volunteers. For example, I have a theater subscription and
patrons get 10% off at participating restaurants by showing their ticket
stub after a performance. Here are some suggestions:
- First, you will want to decide how you want to use the card; for
example, it could be something you give volunteers as part of your
National Volunteer Week celebration (April 21-27).
- Then decide how many "perks" you want to secure and the
types that your volunteers would most appreciate.
- Involve your development director in this project so that you don't
ask a merchant for something after the fundraising staff has already
approached that merchant. In other words, share your list of "target"
merchants with the development staff.
- Ask them for help in putting together a simple package of materials
to give to the merchants when you ask them for their support.
- For example, merchants will want to know what your organization
does (how it serves the community), how many volunteers you have,
how the merchants will be recognized, what the gift card will
look like, and how you will distribute it.
- Now you are ready to call on your selected merchants and solicit
I encourage you to start small and simple for a first-time
project like this. It is better to secure 3-4 "perks" and
do it right the first time. Next year you can expand and secure more
"perks" if this year's effort was a success!
I have just been appointed to a committee within my church to plan our
first summer church fair. No one on the committee has any real experience
in planning such an event. I wonder whether you could give me any guidance
as to where I might search for planning and conducting a church fair.
We were hoping to ask each family of the church to volunteer time to develop
and staff a booth, event or activity. Thanks so much for your help.
There are many good resources online for organizing events of any type.
Visit the Energize, Inc. site at http://www.energizeinc.com and browse
through more than 80 books and videos. Two titles in particular will
interest you: "How to Produce Fabulous Fundraising Events"
by Betty Stallings and Donna McMillion and "Organizing Special
Events and Conferences" by Darcy Campion Devney. You'll also find
several books specifically for faith-based organizations like yours.
I am looking for a good definition of a volunteer that reflects the thought
that they have taken on responsibility of their own free will and as a
result are subjected to the rules and regulations of that organization.
Do you have any thoughts?
I'm not quite sure what you're looking for, but here are some thoughts.
By definition, a volunteer is someone who assists your organization
without remuneration (pay). Volunteers are accountable for and subject
to the same policies and procedures that apply to salaried staff. You
might want to incorporate some of these points into your volunteer handbook
that reflect their rights and responsibilities:
- Volunteers receive training for every assignment
- Volunteers receive ongoing education to maintain and enhance their
- Volunteers provide input into the annual and strategic planning
- Volunteers are treated as professionals
I am a volunteer who has just started working with a volunteer coordinator
to set up the orientation, training, and recognition of more isolated
volunteers, e.g., friendly visitors to the elderly, drivers, and telephone
security. Have you any advice or suggested reading on what are the essentials
of orientation? Thank you!
I believe that orientation is essential to recruiting AND retaining
an effective corps of volunteers. After all, you don't get a second
chance to make a first impression! There is an excellent article on
"The Importance of Good Orientation" by my colleague, Mary
Merrill, on her website at http://www.merrillassoc.com. The article
is full of useful information, so check it out! Some highlights include:
Objectives of Orientation
- Make the person feel welcome.
- Develop positive perceptions about the organization.
- Confirm the volunteer decision.
- Reduce training time.
- Put new volunteers at ease.
Whether orientation is done one-to-one or in small
groups, specific information should be covered:
- Organizational history,
services and funding overview
- Market niche - how
the organization sets itself apart in the marketplace and the community
- Mission, vision,
values, philosophy and goals
- Organizational structure
- Names of department
- Organizational culture
- Management style
- Dress codes
- Emphasis on teamwork,
group interactions, diversity, quality, communication, etc.
- Work arrangement
policies - flexibility in scheduling, etc.
- Career development
opportunities such as training courses, mentoring options
- Explanation of the
performance evaluation system
- Overview of workplace
policies related to equal opportunity, non-discrimination/non-harassment,
health and safety, confidentiality, internet and computer usage,
holidays and grievance procedures
- Organizational events
and activities, such as holiday parties, staff meetings, special
events and fundraisers
- Facility tour
Do you have a question? Now you too can ask an
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.
Send your questions to Connie at AskConnieP@cs.com.
Strategic Nonprofit Resources
2939 Van Ness NW Street, Suite 1248
Washington, DC 20008
VOICE: 202-966-0859 FAX: 202-966-3301
Copyright 2002 by Nancy Macduff.
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