Find tips to oversee the work of volunteers and practical suggestions to supervise them. Everything from ideas to help you work more efficiently to the latest in research on keeping volunteers happy and productive.

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~ April 2002 ~ Topics
  • Starting a Nonprofit Organization
  • High Tech! High Touch
  • Staying Upbeat

Starting a Nonprofit Organization

There are forms to file, local, state, and federal. Board members to recruit. Programs to develop. A mission statement to write. All these things and more are part of developing a nonprofit organization. Want help? Here are some sites to check out for assistance in doing it right.

  • Yahoo-Starting a Nonprofit
  • How to Start a Not-for-Profit Business
  • Resource Website for Starting a Nonprofit Organization

High Tech! High Touch

In the age of cell phones, fax machines, e-mail, and the Internet it is important to stay connected to volunteers and staff in ways that are more personal. Here are some tips for that high touch so necessary to managing volunteers.

Do not eat alone or skip lunch. Join volunteers or other staff for the mid-day meal. The break is important to efficient work, but it is also a way to stay connected to others.
Stop and visit. Stop to visit a volunteer or staff member on the way to the copy machine. Take different routes each day and make a point of stopping to visit with at least one person.
Respond to an e-mail in person. If there is a voice mail or e-mail message for everyone in the organization, make a point of responding in person. You can learn more about the situation and read those body language cues.
Do something physical with someone else. Take that morning coffee break as a walk. Invite a volunteer or staff member to join you. Try to visit without talking "shop." The break is good for efficiency and makes a personal connection.
Give a personal in-person response to a report or memo. Do not respond by e-mail or in writing. Visit the person initiating the document and talk with them about it. Have your comments readily available and be efficient, but make it a personal visit.

Staying Upbeat

Positive people attract positive people. The attitude you have influences you and all the people you work with. Here are some tips to keep your optimism up.

  • Find something that makes you feel good when you look at it. Funny cartoons, clever saying, inspirational poems, photos of family, friends, pets, grandchildren, parks, or the ocean. Make a set of these for the office. Visit them at least once per week and more if the week is a bad one!
  • Be joyful about the things you have going for you. Wishing for something else means never being satisfied with what you have. Keep the optimism up by writing down the things you are grateful for.
  • Reward yourself and others for the positives in your life. It is easy to dwell on the "wrong" of a situation and not on the what's right! An optimist looks to what is good, which generates energy to deal with the challenges.


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 2002 by Nancy Macduff.

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