~~ The Electronic Gazette for Volunteerism
One Minute Answer to Volunteer Management Questions by Mary
Written especially for the beginner, this book provides a quick
reference for the practical aspects of managing a volunteer
program. It provides an easy read for the harried volunteer
program manager on topics such as recruitment, interviewing,
risk management, networking, community involvement, and leadership.
The author, Mary Kay Hood, is currently the Director of Volunteer
Services, with 13 years experience.
Support from Within
Building support for new initiatives and changes means finding allies
in the ranks of volunteers and paid staff. Here are some tips for
finding allies with vastly different concerns.
The Information Junkie has a need for data. The more research,
statistics, graphs, charts you can produce the happier this person
is. The details and numbers help to bring them aboard as an ally.
The Risk Averse person is a good ally. They can help prevent
the problems that plague some programs. They require reassurance
that nothing will go awry if they support your program. Talk with
them about precautions and plans you have to prevent bad things
Global Thinkers are bored by details and want to hear a
brief overview. Outline the macro vision of what the program or
project will bring. Have ideas in bulleted form and be sure to mention
how the new initiative benefits the entire organization.
No Controversy individuals will avoid anything that is not
expressly approved by management. It is important to let this person
know who is supporting this project and what that means in the hierarchy
of the organization. For example, you can mention that the program
will be operated with great efficiency and that the bookkeeper has
supported the program for just that reason.
a Valued Co-Worker
programs are impacted by the person who manages it. The person needs
to know the elements of effective and efficient administration and
they need to be viewed as a valuable co-worker. Here are some tips
on being a part of the team.
It does not cost anything and should never be underestimated. Acknowledging
other staff with a smile and a greeting as one arrives at work is
more than common courtesy. It is a way to build friendships and
Never stoop to gossip or bad-mouthing people. Eleanor Roosevelt
said, Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events,
small minds discuss people.
Know how to manage volunteers, be a resource to others on staff,
fix things that go wrong immediately and build your skills each
year. Never assume you know everything. Above all, listen to the
comments of staff with an open mind. Remember: Anger is only one
letter short of danger!
It really is important to be the person who restocks the paper in
the copier when the last sheet glides through. Do this even if it
means a trip to another room to get the paper. Everyone in the work
place notices. And teach volunteers to follow the same rule.
a sensitive communicator.
Avoid loading up email systems with recipes, jokes or things that
clog overloaded systems. Do not use graphics, unless you add as
an attached document. Think before you send an email. Ask yourself:
would a visit to this person work better and seem more personal
than a flat email? But, do not overdo this.
Train volunteers and yourself to be responsible for cleaning up
after meetings or training sessions. Also, check the organizational
refrigerator for things you left behind and that are now making
penicillin in the green mold.
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Mistakes of Volunteer Managers
|1. Being Cynical about Management
||Cynicism leads to cynicism. If the volunteer manager
has a cynical attitude toward the leadership of the organization,
it is likely the volunteers will reflect that same attitude. They
may even direct it at the volunteer manager. The job of managers
is to build a team that works together to win the game.
|2. No Plan
||Creating an annual plan with the help of an advisory
group, leads to intentional actions and a sense of accomplishments.
Staff, supervisors, volunteers, and clients or members know there
is a plan and can count and see accomplishments. No planning leads
to confusion and a lack of confidence in the volunteer manager.
|3. Not listening
||Much of the volunteer managers job is about
listening. Listening to volunteers, clients or members, supervisor,
administrators, the public, and leaders in the community. Sometimes
the news is not always positive. Effective managers learn to control
disappoint or anger to get the best information, in order to improve
|4. Over committing
||Learning to say no or not now are critical
skills for the volunteer manager. The skills needed to run a volunteer
program include the instinct to want to help others. Therefore,
it is sometimes hard for the volunteer program manager to say
"no!" An annual plan can lend support to staying on
task and saying, I cant do that this year.
|5. Teams in name only
||The most effective organizations with volunteers
have a team ethic. The philosophy and actions demonstrate
that everyone is part of the team. Clients or members, volunteers,
staff at all levels, and other stakeholders are intrinsic to the
operation of the organization. They are consulted as changes are
made, crises are faced, and awards are celebrated.
|6. Inability to build trust
||Volunteers need to trust the person who is the volunteer
manager. The volunteer needs to be confident that information
shared will be handled discreetly, the manager will support the
volunteers even in all staff meetings, and will never let the
volunteer feel or look foolish. If those things are missing the
manager will not have the trust of volunteers.
|7. Fear of evaluation
||Volunteer programs with punch have annual
plans with measurable goals and objectives. There is an annual
report with lots of numbers and measurements of the impact of
volunteer efforts. This is evaluation and it is the only way to
improve a program.
|8. Empty management toolbox
||Successful volunteer managers belong to local and
national professional associations. They take advantage of local
and national or international training. They network with people
who can help them hone their skills as a manager. Thus, their
management toolbox is always being filled up.
|9. "Because I said so."
||Giving orders seems easy on the surface,
but getting commitment from volunteers is a smarter strategy to
build the strong volunteer program. Organizing a well run advisory
group and engaging volunteers at all levels in decision making
takes more time, but builds commitment and increases retention.
|10. Lack of commitment to learning
||Professional development is a key to success in
any profession. Volunteer managers should subscribe to one of
the six journals written about working with volunteers, belong
to a professional association, take college classes on management,
and seek professional certification in volunteer administration.
It shows professional integrity and enhances the work done.
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WSU ONLINE CERTIFICATE IN VOLUNTEER MANAGEMENT
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.
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.
FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT VOLUNTEER MANAGERS SEEKS MEMBERS
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.
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
more information contact Robin Popik,
who is a Volunteer Resource Supervisor. She can be reached by phone
at 972-941-7114. Be sure to mention you read about this in Volunteer
Service of MBA Publishing
925 "E" Street
Walla Walla, WA 99362
VOICE : (509) 529-0244
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