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.

Return to 2002 Archives

~ August 2002 ~ Topics
  • A Question from Ask Connie
  • Calculating the Cost of a Volunteer Hour - Canadian Style
  • Networking Opportunity for Museum Staff
  • Coping with a Death

A Question from Ask Connie

Dear Readers:

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, and I'll share the results of this informal poll in my September column.

Thanks for your help and Happy Summer!


Calculating the Cost of a Volunteer Hour - Canadian Style

A question from a Volunteer Today reader provided the impetus for this writer to investigate how Canadian volunteer programs calculate the value of a volunteer hour for the purpose of reporting the value of volunteer services. In the usual thorough Canadian style there were several suggestions.

  • Statistics Canada estimates the average hourly wage in 2001, excluding overtime-- at $16.39.
  • The Canadian Centre for Philanthropy ordered and paid for a table to measure economic value by matching tasks with a class of occupations to calculate a wage rate. This allows a program to match actual rates of pay with tasks completed.
  • The Centre for Philanthropy also urges organizations to use their internal wage rates as a way of determining the value of a volunteer hour. This should include the cost of such things as annual leave, vacation time, and other such benefits.
  • Human Resource Development Canada has a Toronto Wage survey 2001. This can also provide wage rates for occupational classifications.
  • David Ross (1994) wrote How to Estimate the Economic Contribution of Volunteer Work. It is a publication of the Department of Canadian Heritage.
  • Weekly average earnings are available through Statistics Canada
  • The Canadian Center for Philanthropy has other sources as well.

October 9-12, 2002 - International Conference on Volunteer Administration, Denver, CO, Adams Mark Hotel, sponsored by the Association for Volunteer Administration, for more information click on the graphic above.

Networking Opportunity for Museum Staff

The American Association for Museum Volunteers announced the launch of a listserve to foster communication among members, museum volunteer managers, volunteers, and others interested in volunteer issues, especially in the museum setting. The list is moderated and you can subscribe by sending an email to Be sure to write the word subscribe in the subject line. You will receive a confirmation via email.

Coping with a Death

In the life of any volunteer program there is death. A volunteer dies, staff member, relative of volunteer or staff member, client or member. It often falls to the manager of the volunteer program to help people cope with the death. Here are some tips.

  • Acknowledge the death. There is no point in hiding or ignoring the fact that a person has died. Put a notice in the newsletter, with information about memorial gifts, what the organization has done to acknowledge the death, and suggestions for volunteers who wish to remember the person. You need to check with the person's family so you are doing what is appropriate and acceptable to them.
  • Encourage the offer of condolences to the family. Encourage volunteers and/or staff to send cards, take food, or offer personal words of condolence. Even suggest some things to say. "I am so sorry for your loss." "I am sure this is a difficult time for you and I wanted you to know I was thinking of you."
  • Help volunteers to understand they need to follow the lead of family and friends. If a volunteer encounters someone who was close to the deceased it helps to have an idea of what to say and do. Urge them to listen if the person wants to reminisce about the individual. If they cry, offer a tissue and say, "I just cannot imagine how difficult this must be for you."
  • Avoid saying, "I know just what you are going through." Even if the volunteer has lost someone, grief is very personal and is experienced differently by different people. And, this type of statement moves the focus from the person who is grieving to the person who is talking.
  • Determine ways to be helpful. Volunteers can help out with a loss by filling in for the person until a replacement can be found or they can complete tasks the person started. The volunteer manager best coordinates this, so people are not duplicating efforts to be helpful.
  • Do not avoid mentioning the deceased. It is helpful in the grieving process to remember the funny and positive things the person did, for example, "As we do this I am reminded of how Bob always complained about this task, but he sure was here to help year in and year out. I will miss him."
  • Acknowledge the loss in an official way. During annual recognition events you can acknowledge losses of the last year. It can be an honor roll of those who contributed in the past and will be remembered.


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.

Return to Top of the Page