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.
~ February 2003 ~Topics

Assess Your Contribution

Employees gain respect from supervisors and colleagues when they contribute to overall mission of the organization or program, and not just his/her "little corner of the organization." Knowing you are contributing is also a way to "re-charge those batteries."

  • Be clear about the way your organization "keeps score."
    • What is the mission?
    • What are the numbers or statistics that are used to track performance related to that mission?
    • Determine a way to capture statistics from the volunteer activities and programs that illuminate the mission and add positive statistics. If you are in a budget crunch, determine ways to increase donations or cut expenses. For example, could your printed and mailed newsletter move to the internet with the help of some volunteers, and how much money will that save the organization.
  • Set high standards for your own performance and expect everyone, including volunteers, around you to reach for similar goals. If you are motivated it inspires and uplifts others.
  • Try to make a commitment to the organization that mirrors the mission and motivates you. Complete this sentence. "This organization stands for . . ." Now assess how your contributions are making an impact of what the organization stands for. Think of concrete ways to connect your work performance to what the organization is.

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Staff Assessment

Volunteer managers often receive feedback from a supervisor or administrator. Here are two methods to get feedback from the volunteers.

First Method
  • Make a copy of your job description
  • Distribute it to volunteers
  • Ask people if you have been meeting all your responsibilities as they are written.
  • Devise directions and ask people to indicate how they would rate your accomplishment of your duties. It can be numerical (scale of 1 – 5, with 1 being the best); graded (traditional A – F); or more general (exceeds expectation, meets expectations)

Second Method
  • Create an evaluation form based on the organization’s performance evaluation form
  • Devise a method to distribute to volunteers.
  • The return of the evaluation should be an anonymous process for the volunteers. No names required.
  • Make sure the form can be tabulated easily using a spreadsheet form, similar to Excel.
  • Ask for honest feedback, as if the volunteers were the supervisor.

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Coping with Disasters

It is the rare volunteer program that has not had to deal with a crisis or mishap - everything from inappropriate volunteer behavior with a client or member to the loss of a volunteer or a client. The ability to cope with disasters, big and small, is the sign of a professional. Here are some tips to cope with the next crisis.

  • How serious is this? Begin by determining if this is really a crisis or it will take care of itself in due time. Some managers rank crisis from the worst they have experienced as a ten and then anything else from 1 to that terrible ten!

  • What is the worst that can happen? This is a way to maintain perspective. Ask yourself how important this will be in six months or a year.

  • Break it down into manageable parts. Breaking a problem down makes it seem doable. Make a list of all the things to be done or address. Tackle them in small increments (prioritize them first). Set goals to do two a day or four per week. This makes the situation seem less ominous.

  • Who else has faced this type of problem? This is when the professional network of volunteer managers is invaluable. It is likely an experienced volunteer manager has tackled this problem. Consult them for advice and help, if need be.



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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