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to 2002 Archives
| ~ January 2002 Topics ~
- New Year's Resolutions for Managers of Volunteer Resources
- "Best of Ask Connie"
In keeping with the spirit of
the season, I've compiled some "New Year's
Resolutions for Managers of Volunteer Resources." Feel free
to add your own and Happy New Year!
"New Year's Resolutions for Managers of Volunteer Resources"
- Join the Association for Volunteer Administration http://ww.avaintl.org
and become active in your local DOVIA (Directors of Volunteers
in Agencies). Networking with others will stimulate your creativity
and strengthen your professionalism.
- Create an annual recognition plan and budget for your volunteer
program. Don't count on always remembering to implement recognition
- plan for it!
- Keep a stack of note cards in your desk for those quick,
important thank you notes to volunteers.
- Update (or create) your volunteer program policies and procedures
(organize a task force of volunteers to help you do it!).
- Practice "active listening" more often so that
you "hear" what volunteers and staff are telling
- Share your program's successes and activities more often
(articles in your organization's newsletter, reports at staff
meetings, report to your supervisor, report to the Board of
Directors, statistics for your fundraising staff, etc.).
- Take better care of yourself this year because if you're
tired and cranky, everyone else will be too!
- Most of all enjoy yourself and everyone around you. . .
laugh out loud at least three times every day!
During the past four years I've
been asked some timeless questions about volunteer management practices.
Here are a few "Best of Ask Connie":
I'm in charge of a large special event. I know how many volunteers I
need and what they need to do, but I don't know what to do next to recruit
them. What advice do you have for me?
Congratulations for already identifying how many volunteers you need,
for how long, and for what tasks! But, have you put the information
into position descriptions? Position descriptions (PD's for short) are
the foundation for a successful recruiting campaign. When you organize
your workforce needs into PD's, you'll be able to identify where to
recruit volunteers because you'll know exactly what you're looking for
to make your event a success. PD's also provide prospective volunteers
with the information they need to make an informed decision on whether
or not they can help you. The most effective PD's include:
- Purpose of the position and/or why the work needs to be accomplished.
- Who the volunteer is responsible to (another volunteer, staff member,
- Time commitment required (days, hours, whatever is appropriate for
- Specific skills required to accomplish the job
- Specific duties/tasks to be accomplished (in chronological order
- Benefits of volunteering (gain new skills, meet new people, make
a difference, etc.)
An easy way to get started and organize the PD information
is to use a spreadsheet program (Excel, Lotus, etc.). Set up columns
for each of the categories above, making the first column the title
of the position. Then as you complete the columns for each position
you can see at a glance where the overlaps are and what positions/tasks
are missing. Finally, take the information from your spreadsheet and
create formal PD's. Once you've completed your PD's, you'll know where
to recruit volunteers based on your specific needs. Good luck and happy
When is National Volunteer Week? I have a limited budget, but I'd like
to plan an activity for my volunteers or give them some kind of recognition
gift. Any suggestions?
Ted from a hospice organization
The dates for National Volunteer Week are April 21-27,
2002. There are many good sources on the Internet for recognition gifts
to fit every budget. Check out these web sites:
* Cybervpm.com - At the bottom of the new home
page you'll find links to The Thanks Company, VolunCheer, and VolunteerGifts.com
all great resources for thoughtful inexpensive gifts for volunteers.
* Energizeinc.com - There's a great "Gift
Bazaar" near the bottom of the main page on this site.
* Pointsoflight.org - The Points of Light Foundation
has a promotional kit for sale on National Volunteer Week. It contains
publicity tips, a sample press release, copy for PSA's, service project
ideas, recognition ideas, and much more. Just click on "Programs
and Initiatives" and then on "National Volunteer Week."
* The California Association of Hospitals and
Health Systems sells a wide range of recognition gifts and materials.
Call their Volunteer Sales Center at 916-928-3950 to receive their catalogue.
I'm presenting a workshop for a state volunteer management organization
covering the topic of Volunteer Staff Relations. Our attendees will
be from a large, diverse volunteer director/manager/coordinator background.
I am purchasing Building Staff-Volunteer Relations by Ivan Scheier,
but I am also wondering if you are aware of other solid material. I
am also wondering if you've had other questions about this topic. Thanks
for your help.
It must be the season for this topic because I've had several requests
for information about volunteer/staff relationships! These unique partnerships
have in them the element of "human nature," which sometimes
makes them difficult to create and manage effectively. I have found
that productive partnerships between staff and volunteers are characterized
||Two-way communication that informs both staff
and volunteers about "who is doing what, when, and how."
||Team building that involves volunteers in all
levels of the organization's planning and decision making to increase
the ownership of institutional goals by everyone.
||Open honest evaluation of volunteer activities
by both staff and volunteers to increase the success of all volunteer
||Public and private recognition of the accomplishments
of volunteers AND their staff partners.
I'm trying to find some advice to give to our chapters about how to do
a volunteer needs inventory. Our chapters responded to a survey that their
main concern is a lack of volunteers. One of the first things we would
like for chapter presidents to do is to discover the skills and talents
they already have within their chapters. Do you have any ideas for the
questions, procedures, and/or forms that I can use?
Sandra in Toronto
I worked for a national organization for 10 years, and we utilized volunteers
from all across the U.S. as trainers, facilitators, and public speakers.
I developed an application form that you could easily adapt for your
use. The categories of information that I sought were:
- Contact information (name, address, email, fax, emergency contact,
- Educational background (degrees earned, major areas studied)
- Professional background (employer(s), type of work, address, phone,
email, fax, etc.)
- Volunteer background (organization(s), type of volunteering, years,
offices held, etc.)
- Skills (specific skills that your chapters are seeking)
- Availability (weekdays, weekends, nights, etc.)
I compiled the information in a simple database so
that it was always handy for placement of the volunteers.
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
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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