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VolunteerToday.com ~~ The Electronic Gazette for Volunteerism


V.T. readers ask questions about volunteer management and administration. Ask Connie, an experienced volunteer manager, consultant and trainer, provides the answers for all to see.
Send questions to AskConnieP@cs.com

~August 2003~ Topics

Dear Readers:

I have received many questions recently about volunteer/staff partnerships – how to manage and strengthen them. So I decided to share my response with everyone! Feel free to copy this article and share it with your colleagues (just be sure to give Volunteer Today the credit).

I hope your summer has been productive and restful!

Best wishes,

Productive Volunteer/Staff Partnerships
by Connie Pirtle, Volunteer Today

Productive volunteer/staff partnerships are characterized by:

  1. Two-way communication to inform both staff and volunteers about "who's doing what, when, and how."
  2. Team building that involves volunteers in all levels of the organization's planning and decision making to increase the ownership of its goals by everyone.
  3. A clear understanding by volunteers of all institutional roles including their own.
  4. Open and honest evaluation of volunteer activities by both staff and volunteers.
  5. Public and private recognition of the accomplishments of volunteers and their staff partners.

My favorite approach to guidelines for staff and volunteers is one of "expectations" for both. I've listed a few examples below so that you get the idea. Expectations are sometimes more easily accepted than "rules" or "guidelines."

Graphic Image Volunteers can expect: Graphic Image Staff members can expect:
  • to be trained for the tasks they will do
  • to understand how their work fits into the organization
  • to be thanked for their efforts
  • for their staff partners to be courteous, kind, and thoughtful
  • for volunteers to show up on time for assignments
  • for volunteers to be respectful of the demands on staff time
  • to be thanked for their efforts
  • for their volunteer partners to be courteous, kind, and thoughtful

If you're looking for specific examples of guidelines for staff working with volunteers, here are a few to consider:

Graphic Image The types of things that volunteers do (and don't do)
Graphic Image Who volunteers are and what their backgrounds are
Graphic Image What volunteers contribute to the organization
Graphic Image The role of staff members in designing volunteer jobs, recruiting, screening, and supervising
Graphic Image What to do when problems arise (volunteers who don't dress appropriately, eat on the job, don't behave appropriately, etc.)
Graphic Image
Who supervises whom and about what (lines of communication, supervision, etc.)
Graphic Image What not to do with volunteers (personal errands, meaningless/repetitious tasks, get angry, yell, etc.)
Graphic Image
How to recognize and reward volunteers (give specific examples)
Graphic Image Explain what's in it for the staff if the volunteer program works
Graphic Image
How to evaluate volunteer performance (create an evaluation form for staff to use)
Graphic Image Erase any stereotypical images of volunteers (little old ladies with blue hair)

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 AskConnieP@cs.com.
Connie Pirtle
Strategic Nonprofit Resources
10103 Edward Avenue * Bethesda, MD 20814 * VOICE: 301-530-8233 * FAX: 301-530-8299

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