VolunteerToday.com ~~ The Electronic Gazette for
|RECRUITING AND RETENTION
Visit this page for ideas, suggestions and
hints to build recruitment capacity.
Return to 2002 Archives
| ~ June 2002 ~ Topics
- Volunteer Today Remodels Its Bookstore
- Changes at Volunteer Today
- Compassion Fatigue
- Holding On To Volunteers
Volunteer Today Remodels Its Bookstore
Interested in books or kits on working with volunteers
or boards? Visit the newly "remodeled" Volunteer
Bookstore. You can order online, using a credit card, behind a secure
"fire wall." You can see pictures of the books and read about
the content. And shipping is your choice-fast or pony express!
The snappy new design is due to Laura Bunt our intrepid
Web Master, Ruben Bybee of Blue Mountain Internet, and Sara Strickland-the
scanner master! It is also so you can find resources in a timely way to
run your program more effectively.
Changes at Volunteer Today
The new Bookstore site has kept us hopping for months
and it still has some kinks we are working out. It has been a big change
for our readers and us. More changes are in the offing.
Georgean Johnson-Coffey has been the writer of "Tech
Tips" for some time. She is passing the wand of writing to Michael
Stills. Michael is a long time volunteer manager of a county program.
He is currently working on his Master's degree in Nonprofit Management
at Regis College in Colorado. In addition to writing papers he is joining
the VT staff as writer of Tech Tips. He well versed and experienced in
this area, even spearheading an online chat for government volunteer managers
during the Points of Light annual National Community Service campaign
in 1999. He is currently working with the International Conference on
Volunteer Administration as the head of the technology team. His view
and vision for the use of technology in the volunteer scheme of things
is growing daily. We are quite happy he has agreed to take on this challenge.
While Michael is coming aboard, Georgean is not leaving
Volunteer Today. She is working with Publisher and Senior Editor, Nancy
Macduff to create a page for government-based volunteer programs. It will
be several months until this is launched as we seek writers from four
levels of government programs; local, state, federal, and military. Stay
tuned for more news on this exciting new offering.
Are your volunteers burning out? Do people drop by the
wayside with no seeming good reason? Are you seeing greater turnover than
in the past? It could be Compassion Fatigue.
This malady impacts paid staff and volunteers who are
exposed to the traumatic suffering of others. It can result in poor job
performance, plummeting self-esteem, and cause people to leave their job
or abandon a volunteer position. Here are some tips to help address this
problem for volunteers and staff.
Do not mince words when recruiting volunteers. Tell the
truth. Let people know what to expect. Be honest that they will
experience compassion fatigue, but that help is available. Be sure
to tell them they are not alone.
Have a stable support system. Volunteers need the opportunity
to talk out the emotional parts of their tasks in a safe and supportive
environment. Be insistent about attendance. Follow-up if people
are not attending. Get experts to come regularly to help members
of the group learn techniques to cope with burnout.
Make support formal and informal. Support for volunteers
can be formal, such as a monthly support meeting or it can be informal,
like a place to go in the building where they work if they need
Volunteers need to be encouraged to talk about their feelings.
In many cultures, most notably Northern Europe and North American,
some people are inclined to believe it is inappropriate to show
their feelings in the face of trauma. Staff needs to monitor volunteers
for such things as how often they are angry with a client or how
much they have been working directly with clients. If there are
changes in the person, the volunteer manager needs to gently inquire
what is happening. There is even a self-test to measure compassion
fatigue (see below). Some studies show that people who express their
feelings in the work place, where they are surrounded by traumatic
events, work more productively than in those where nothing is mentioned
and the unwritten rule is to ignore feelings.
Consider outside help. Staff and volunteers can work together
to note the need for outside help. If turnover is high and tempers
are short it might be time to bring in an expert on secondary traumatic
stress. A workshop for staff and volunteers can help identify symptoms
and how people can help one another.
Here are some resources for addressing compassion fatigue.
- The Compassion Fatigue Self-Test. Designed by Charles R. Figley,
founder of the International Traumatology Institute, measures levels
of compassion fatigue, burnout, and satisfaction. Go to http://www.greencross.org/selftest4psychotherapists.pdf.
- Secondary Traumatic Stress: Self-Care Issues for Clinicians,
Researchers, and Educators, ed. Beth Hudnall Stamm, Sidran Press
- A video, "When Helping Hurts: Sustaining Trauma Workers."
Can be purchased at http://www.giftfromwithin.org/html/video.html.
- The Association for Trauma Stress Specialists can be accessed
Holding On To Volunteers
Younger workers are job hoppers and they bring that
to their volunteer work, as well. Here are some tips from the corporate
world to keep volunteers on the job longer.
Thank you every day in every way.
||You can never say thank you
enough. This is true for the staff that directly supervises the
volunteer, too, not just the volunteer manager. A small note or
reward is a nice way to say thanks.
||Check in with volunteers at
their work site. Set aside a minimum of 1 hour per day to check
on how people are doing. This gives them a chance to have a one-to-one
conversation with you where they can voice concerns.
Keep them laughing.
||Humor in the workplace is good.
Use it to relieve tension or just lift the mood.
||Give volunteers regular feedback
on how things are going for staff, clients, or members. Plan training
if there seems to be a need. Treat people well, especially when
times are tough.
Provide a mall map.
||Volunteers can sometimes forget
why they are stuffing 3000 envelopes. Make sure everyone knows the
big picture. Shopping malls have maps that show the patron where
they are, but give the big picture. Volunteers need this, too.
DAILY POINTS OF LIGHT AWARD FORMS AVAILABLE
The Points of Light Foundation has forms available
to nominate volunteers and volunteer organizations for the Daily Points
of Light Award. It is designed recognize individuals and groups that demonstrate
unique and innovative approaches to community volunteering and citizen
action, with a strong emphasis on service focused on the goals for children
and young people set by the Presidents Summit for American's Future.
The award is given five days a week, excluding holidays.
If you would like nomination forms, contact Crystal Hill at 202-729-8000.
By calling 1-800-VOLUNTEER in the U.S., individuals
can be connected to their local volunteer center. This is a national interactive
call routing system designed to get volunteers connected to people who
can help them volunteer.
Copyright 2002 by Nancy Macduff.