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VolunteerToday.com ~~ The Electronic Gazette for Volunteerism


Find tips to oversee the work of volunteers and practical suggestions to supervise them. Everything from ideas to help you work more efficiently to the latest in research on keeping volunteers happy and productive.

~August 2003~ Topics

Leadership Suicide

One of the ways support for a volunteer program comes along is when the person who manages volunteers is seen by peers and administrators as a “leader.” You can commit leadership suicide by doing any or all of the following things. And they are all “fixable.”

Exploding Image Act impulsively. Being unpredictable, impatient, or acting before thinking through all the consequences is a problem for your volunteers and colleagues.
Dynamite Image Be perceived as aloof. A smiling pleasant demeanor is no substitute when you are preoccupied with your own agenda and address issues in a haughty manner. People around you see this as being manipulative at best and stubborn at worst.
Exploding Image Too cautious. Life is filled with risk. Being indecisive or reluctant to tackle new things because you think something will fail is not the mark of a leader.
Dynamite Image Too suspicious. The person who argues about everything, is distrustful, or skeptical can be seen as resistant to feedback. Leaders invite feedback, even the negative kind.
Exploding Image Be a prima donna. People who are outgoing and friendly to excess are often seen as attention seekers, more interested in self-promotion or needing approval. Leaders let the light shine on others.
Dynamite Image Engage in impetuous or volatile behavior. Quick to anger, moody, emotional are all things that undermine people’s view of you as a leader.
Exploding Image Too controlling. The perfectionist is likely a poor manager of volunteers. After all volunteers are doing the work and the manager is guiding. Micromanaging is not the sign of good leadership.

If one or more of these applies to you, it is time to read up on leadership and put into practice those skills of the effective leader. The volunteer program gains power and influence when the volunteer manager is seen as part of the organization’s leadership team.

Check out the Volunteer Program Evaluation Program Series on Volunteer and Staff Relations.

Short description of this series: "Organizations are successful at achieving their mission when volunteers and staff are a team. Evaluate the elements of the relationships in your organization and outline the strategies to make things better."

Purchase this package by clicking on either of the following links, which will redirect you to a secure shopping site. Evaluation Only $25.00 and Evaluation & Consultation Package - Best Deal! $99.95 (Resource List not available on this package.)

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“Love the New Changes, Marge”

Volunteers come and go, programs die and new ones replace them, administrators change, and money goes up and down. Change is a fact of life in working with volunteers. Here are some tips to learn to love those changes.

Work to live with uncertainty and doubt. Change is rarely fast. Learning to live with uncertainty can actually lower your blood pressure. Try some relaxation exercises when the anxiety gets too high.
Drag along the familiar. If you are losing a key volunteer, make a date with the person for lunch next month. If you are changing offices, set up your furniture in a similar pattern to the old office. Try to take with you, if only mentally, some things with which you are familiar. It helps lessen the uncontrolled feeling of change.
Be straight about why you oppose the change. Admit to yourself that the rut you are in feels comfortable and changing is just soooo much trouble. You cannot control the change, but you can control your attitude about it.
Talk to colleagues. Time to make the local volunteer mangers group meeting. No doubt someone else has experienced this change and can advise you. Seek out people who know from personal experience what you are going through.
Keep expectations high but don’t expect miracles. Be optimistic about where the change will lead and how it will be a benefit to you. It is important, however, to accept that while you move on nothing will be quite the same.

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Squigly Right Arrow Image Be a Better Listener Squigly Left Arrow Image

Three tips for folks who have a tendency to talk and contribute more than others. Here are some quick exercises to make you a better listener.
      1. The next time you have a meal with a group, wait 15 minutes before contributing to the conversation. Yes, check your watch to see if you can go that long.
      2. In the next meeting you attend, restrain yourself from interrupting, even though you know the answer to a question or are dying to make a comment. Do this for at least 15 minutes; and if it is a long meeting do it more than once.
      3. Note the time and go for 30 minutes without speaking.

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Interested in assessing volunteer and staff relations in your program?

Looking for help from an expert?

Get help with one of the Volunteer Program Evaluation Series.


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 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 Today.

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