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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
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Send questions to AskConnieP@cs.com
~ August 2002 ~ Topics
- Volunteer Vacation Resources
- Top 10 Reasons for Volunteer Program Success
- Benefits of Professional Volunteer Management Associations
A Question from Ask Connie
The subject of volunteers and fundraising has many layers and variations.
The one that many volunteer program managers struggle with is whether
or not to solicit financial contributions from their direct-service
volunteers (not volunteer board members or trustees). I'd like to
hear from you!
Are the volunteers in your organization solicited for financial
contributions? If so, how? If not, why? Please send your responses
to me AskConnieP@cs.com,
and I'll share the results of this informal poll in my September
Thanks for your help and Happy Summer!
I'm thinking about taking a "volunteering" vacation next year.
Can you recommend any resources to help me identify organizations that
accept volunteer vacationers? Thanks!
Dear Thinking Ahead,
Good for you! The number of people looking for volunteer or educational
trips is growing. Here are a few resources that may help you:
||places volunteers in 150 programs
in 19 countries, including the United States.
|Cross Cultural Solutions
|SCI International Voluntary Service
|Habitat for Humanity International
||conducts volunteer trips in dozens
of countries, including the U.S., through its Global Village Program.
||has ecological expeditions for
volunteers in dozens of countries.
||offers educational trips and foreign
||offers volunteer opportunities
in the U.S.
I located Volunteer Today via the Volunteer Action Center web site and
I am excited to be able to review information presented online. I am
being appointed volunteer coordinator for a private elementary school,
pre-K thru 8th grade. I have volunteered myself but have never managed
a group or establishment's volunteer program. I am excited about the
prospect and will need some guidance. I will subscribe to this newsletter
[VT News] and review your column frequently. I will also be scanning
the web for other sites and certainly review and perhaps invest in some
of the publications. However - in your experience - can you name the
10 best ways to get this type of investment off to a nearly perfect
There is a wealth of information on the Internet about volunteer programs
and I suggest you take advantage of the following sites:
||The news and information changes
monthly, so bookmark this site and don't forget to register for
the free monthly VT News.
||Read Mary Merrill's excellent
Topic of the Month articles and visit her site monthly for her latest
||This full service site offers
publications, information, and an excellent bibliography on volunteerism
and volunteer management.
My top 10 ways to ensure your success:
- Identify clearly and completely all of the needs at the elementary
school that volunteers can meet.
- Involve teachers, administration, parents, and students in
volunteer program planning and implementation.
- Recruit volunteers who have the availability, interest, and
skills necessary to meet the needs you've identified.
- Screen and place volunteers based on #3 above.
- Orient new volunteers thoroughly to the organization of the
school and the volunteer program.
- Train new volunteers thoroughly to ensure THEIR success.
- Evaluate your program regularly (get feedback from volunteers,
teachers, parents, and students) so that you can make changes
- Utilize current volunteers to recruit new volunteers (they
are your best ambassadors).
- Recognize the efforts of all volunteers, both informally (saying
"thank you") and formally (certificates, parties,
- Communicate, communicate, communicate with volunteers, students,
teachers, administration, parents, and your community. The more
information they have about activities and volunteer opportunities,
the more success your program will have.
Do you have any advice on how to evaluate the benefits of joining a
professional association for volunteer managers/administrators? I need
to present to my supervisor the benefits of membership in an association,
but need some input on what to look for. Thank you,
I believe the benefits of belonging to a professional association for
volunteer program managers are the same as for any other profession:
- networking with your peers to learn about what works and what doesn't
- sharing your own challenges
- advance notice of professional development opportunities
- discounts on products and services
- acquiring new knowledge and ideas
- celebrating your successes and those of your peers
It's vital to be linked to your colleagues who do
the same work you do in volunteer management. The tangible benefits
of your membership will most likely result in:
- Increased effectiveness of your volunteer program to help your organization
meet its mission.
- Stronger ability to recruit and place volunteers in your program,
which expands community involvement in your organization.
- Increased retention of volunteers in your program due to what you
learn through your professional association.
- Increase in your own professional development for a relatively small
financial investment, which translates as increased job satisfaction
In short, I can't think of any reasons NOT to belong
to a professional volunteer management association. I hope you're considering
joining the Association for Volunteer Administration, http://www.avaintl.org,
the national membership organization for volunteer program managers.
Membership information and benefits can be found on the website. The
site also has a list of local volunteer management associations that
you can search.
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.
Send your questions to Connie at AskConnieP@cs.com.
Strategic Nonprofit Resources
2939 Van Ness Street, NW - Suite 1248
Washington, DC 20008
VOICE: 202-966-0859 FAX: 202-966-3301
Copyright 2002 by Nancy Macduff.
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