Return to 2002 Archives

~ February 2002 ~
  • How Do You Rate on Networking?
  • Volunteer Turnover
  • Formative Evaluation Technique
  • Burning Questions in the Parking Lot

How Do You Rate on Networking?

Networking is a way to promote yourself, your program, and your organization. Knowing people comes in handy when your are raising money, seeking resources, or help with a project. Here is a quiz to see how you are doing as a networker?

Yes ____ No ____ 1. I am a member of the professional association for those who work with volunteers or charities in my community.
Yes ____ No ____ 2. I serve on committees or other leadership roles in my professional association
Yes ____ No ____ 3. I often say "Hi" to people when I am standing in a line.
Yes ____ No ____ 4. At the last organizational social event I attended, I started a conversation with someone I did not know.
Yes ____ No ____ 5. I follow-up with new people I meet by telephone or e-mail.
Yes ____ No ____ 6. I have lunch once a month with someone who does my job in another organization.
Yes ____ No ____ 7. I have business cards.
Yes ____ No ____ 8. I take my business cards everywhere, even on vacation.


      • 5 or more yes responses and you are a good networker;
      • four and you have some work to do;
      • less than four and you need to read up on networking.

Volunteer Turnover

There are natural reasons why volunteers move on. Sometimes, however, volunteers send signals that not all is well, before they stop coming to an assignment. A volunteer might send some cues before they leave. For example:

"I'm bored!"   Volunteers like promotions, new plateaus. This might be working on a committee, training new-comers, being asked to serve on an advisory group, join a speakers bureau, or help redesign their current position. Challenge means an opportunity to gain new skills, meet new people, and do new things.
"I didn't realize this is what I would be doing."   Volunteers have pre-conceived notions about their positions, sometimes erroneous ones. Sometimes asking the volunteer what they expected might mean you could move them or alter responsibilities. Reshaping duties can keep them happy and staying with the organization.
I never see you."   Most volunteers like feedback, and buckets of it. They want to know they are serving the needs of the organization and helping clients. They want to know if what they are doing is right or wrong. Informal input from the supervisor or the person directing the volunteer program is an essential part of retention.

Formative Evaluation Technique

Formative training evaluations are those that occur while the training is in session. It is the results of group presentations, quick quizzes, or participants practicing their proficiency at a new skill. The Evaluation Bulls-Eye is a quick and effective means to check in on a presentation before participants break for lunch to see if you are on target!

Burning Questions in the Parking Lot

Trainees often arrive at the training session with "burning questions." These are things that they need to know immediately. Sometimes they are so focused on those questions it is hard for them to participate in training that is not directly related to that topic.

Adults are usually willing to postpone answers, if they are assured the questions will be addressed during the training session. One way to deal with this is with the "Burning Question" Parking Lot. Here is how to create it and a visual example below:

  1. Use a sheet of easel paper and draw what approximates the layout of a parking lot. You can put pictures of cars in some of the spaces and landscape with trees and bushes. Computer graphics are your friends. The empty spaces are for those post-it-notes with burning questions.
  2. Leave two or three post-it-note pads on each table with pencils and tell the trainees that at any time during the session they can write burning questions on the pads, then put them in the parking lot.
  3. In your training plan, include 10 - 15 minutes to review the questions and answer those that have not already been addressed. Most trainers find that the questions put up early in the session are answered in planned activities, leaving only a few questions to answer.


Close to 200 colleges and universities offer academic programs on nonprofit and volunteer sector management. They are usually master's degree programs, but not always. American Humanics sponsors undergraduate programs, as well. If you are looking to push out the professional development window, consider taking a course at one of these colleges. A full list resides at Thank Roseanne Mirabella, of Seton Hall University for keeping up with this list.

Copyright 2002 by Nancy Macduff.