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~ October 2002 ~ Topics
  • Word-Wanted Ads
  • How to Handle a Media Feeding Frenzy
  • Tips to Manage Changes

Word-Wanted Ads

A recent issue of The Volunteer Management Report suggested a novel idea for people to find the perfect volunteer position. Newspapers run "want-ads' for paid work, why not for unpaid. The paper might create a section of its want-ads where people could list their qualifications and interests in a volunteer position. It might run once per month and be supported by many agencies or organizations in the community.

A local volunteer center could spearhead the effort, by meeting with organizations interested in getting local newspapers to do this. Ads might be "seeded" at the beginning until the idea catches on. This might entail having recently recruited volunteers list their interests and qualifications, as if they were still looking for a position.

This type of project might start with smaller, "shopper" type newspapers, which are often more closely connected to the community in the way a large metropolitan paper is not. Work your way up to the big "guns."

For more information on The Volunteer Management Report
call 712-2239-3010 CST or visit thir website at

How to Handle Media Feeding Frenzy
  • Begin with prevention. The program (and organization) should have policies on dealing with the media. In nonprofit organizations the board of directors establishes policies for who talks to the media and who does not. The policy addresses behavior for staff and volunteers.

  • Policies about talking with the media are reviewed during volunteer orientation. Volunteers should never talk to the media, without the knowledge and arrangements of the organization for whom they volunteer.

  • It is important to keep volunteers in the information loop during a crisis, as any institution should do with staff, as well. This requires a plan, which includes equipment up to the task of mass communication. The larger the organization, the more critical the use of electronic communication media.

  • In most situations that draw out the media, big and small scale, there is a designated spokesperson for the organization or agency. The volunteer program manager needs to be in the communication line with this person, so they, in turn, can keep volunteers up-to-date on events. The more people feel included the less likely they are to go around the existing procedure and go to a media person with conflicting information.

  • Following the crisis, organize a "debriefing" committee to assess how the situation was handled and how it might be done differently in the future. Revisit the new plan each year, to be sure you are ready to cope with the next crisis.

Tips to Manage Changes

Volunteer programs seem to attract change like a moth to a flame. Policy shifts, new positions are created, old positions are eliminated, staff come and go, the office is shifted to a new location, and mainstay volunteers move on to new challenges. Coping with these changes can turn hair gray and add wrinkles. Here are some tips to help organize the change to help lessen the pressure.

The change process works best when it begins with facts. Make a clear case for why this particular change is being made. Have a fact sheet or FAQ ready to go when you begin talking about the change.

Involve those impacted by the change in the decisions about what is going to happen and when. One volunteer manager noted a problem; she did some research (interviewed people and turned it into a statistical report), and went to her advisory committee with the facts. The advisory group's conclusion was the same as hers. Something had to change. Now the change is not one person's idea, but rather a group.

Begin with an advisory group or board to identify skills needed to make the necessary change. Organize those with skills into a task force to make recommendations, create a plan, aide with implementation, and evaluation when the change is complete. Sometimes adults need help in being creative. The first meeting of the task force might include some creative exercises to get that part of the brain working on innovative solutions.

The volunteer program manager and leadership of the task force need to be working continually to obtain the necessary resources to implement the change.

It is helpful to create incentives for change. People are more inclined to embrace a new way of doing things if there is something in it for them. The incentives need not necessarily be financial, but there should be a list of the benefits to individuals from the impending change.

It is also the time to collaborate. This might mean involving other staff or departments in the organization or going outside the organization to make the change happen. Working with others can also bring a fresh eye to a situation and result in a better plan.

Create a written action plan to implement the change. Make it available to anyone impacted by the change. Then everyone knows where the process is headed and the places where it is appropriate to have input.

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.


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.

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