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~ July 2002 ~
  • A Question from Ask Connie
  • Tips to Raise Money Online
  • What To Do When You Only Get Only Half the Story?
  • Tips to Speed Up a Slowpoke
  • Getting Ahead When There are Conflict Road Blocks

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!


Tips to Raise Money Online ) has published a guide to help organizations use email and the Internet to raise money. This San Francisco nonprofit processes online donations for charities. It also has a weekly email newsletter with tips on online fundraising.

What To Do When You Only Get Only Half the Story?

Sometimes you receive information that you are sure is only part of the story. Short of calling someone a liar, what do you do? Try these techniques.

  • Halt! Stop the conversation on some pretext; meeting, phone call, bathroom, etc. Then the next day start the conversation all over. Tell the person that you had to leave and cannot remember where they left off and need to cover the same ground. If the person knows you are not going to let the matter drop, they will frequently fill in all the blanks.

  • Confess. Tell the person you are baffled by what they are saying. Say things like "this is strange," or "Help me get this all straight." Summarize your confusion very briefly, no more than a sentence or two. Then make firm and steady eye contact while the person fills in the silence.

  • Change. Do not respond to what the person is saying, but bring up something light and non-threatening. It should be a topic the other person enjoys talking about, too. Then go back to the topic where you were getting only part of the story. Say, "Back to what we were discussing. Help me to understand these things."

  • More. Ask the person to tell you "the rest of the story." You can do that by asking such questions as: "What other information can you share on this?" "What else should I know about this?" This is the time for a curious tone of voice. Best not to sound suspicious.

Tips Speed Up a Slowpoke

Volunteers work at different speeds. If you need to help someone go faster here are some tips.

  1. Begin with the expectations for performance. The volunteer needs to know the standards for completing the work. Then describe specifically how fast they are doing the work. This is not the time to be vague. "In order to complete this project in a timely way, everyone working on it needs to enter 6 TDT forms into the computer every hour. I noticed that for your last couple of visits you have been putting in 3 per hour."

  2. Ask if you can help. In the most supportive way ask how you can help them increase their speed. "I want to make sure that you have everything you need to complete this project. How about if I review with you the steps in doing this, so we are sure that you are doing it in the most efficient way?"

  3. Ask the volunteer to tell you how long it will be before you can see an improvement in his/her performance. The volunteer needs to tell you how soon before they meet the minimum standard for the task. "We need these all completed by the first of the month. How soon do you think you can hit that six per hour number?"

  4. Offer options. The volunteer may be misplaced. Reassure them that there are lots of other needs in the organization and this position is not for everyone. You value them and the contribution they can make. "I want you to know how much we value your willingness to achieve our goals. Not everyone is suited for every job. If you think this is a poor placement for you, let's discuss moving you to an area when you can help us and the requirements are more suited to your skills."

Getting Ahead When There are Conflict Road Blocks

The volunteer manager who is the most successful is the one who is seen as a key part of the managerial team. One of the most challenging times for the professional is when there is conflict with an individual or other part of the organization. The lists below suggest career advancement strategies and career sabotaging behaviors, when conflict is the issue. You get to choose.

Career Advancement Strategies
Career Sabotaging Behaviors
Create Solutions
Conflict is inevitable in the workplace. The person who is seen as professional and a team player is the one who engages in finding solutions. This means engaging the person with whom you are having a conflict in an open and honest effort to brainstorm solutions to the impasse.  
Avoid conflict
Sticking your head in the sand is not the solution to conflict used by professionals. Ignoring the problem or the person,or acting "distant" around the person paints you with the brush of ineptitude if someone is being charitable and unprofessional in the worst-case scenario.
Engage in empathy
Empathy is not sympathy. It is putting yourself in someone else's place and trying to see a situation from their point of view. The professional has a tendency to do this, especially where conflict is involved.  
Laugh at others
It seems easy, sometimes, to make fun of others, to demean them or ridicule ideas or behavior. The non-professional does this, using what they think is humorous sarcasm. That type of behavior is not the best career move. Another way to sabotage your career is to display anger with harsh words and a loud voice.
Make the first move
The professional is quick to say they are sorry and reach out to others to solve problems. The goal is to make amends and move on.  
Seek revenge
Blocking the work of others, retaliating, or seeking to get back at someone with whom you have a conflict does the person doing it more harm than the person it is directed toward.
Honest responses
Team players express honest emotions at the time of conflict. They describe how they are thinking and feeling, but in ways that others can hear.  
Win-no matter the cost
Arguing vigorously and refusing to budge is a tactic used to win, no matter what. An unwillingness to change or even consider other people's ideas is a sure way to career suicide.


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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