All volunteer programs experience times of crisis. Sometimes the organization has the crisis, an individual in the organization hits the headlines, or a client, member, or patron brings attention to the organization in a not-so-positive manner. Most organizations are good at managing a crisis as it relates to the relationship with staff, but what about the volunteers? Sometimes it is volunteers who can help head off the next crisis and so keeping them well-informed is critical. Here are some tips.
Get the facts. Insist that it is important for you to know all that is going on. Most managers of volunteer programs in organizations run the single largest department in terms of people. Those people need information to forestall gossip and rumor mill overload.
Control your behavior. No matter the crisis, you need to be calm and reassuring. If you need to break down, do it at home, alone, in a closet. Your leadership sets an example that the volunteers will follow. If you are nervous and anxious, the volunteers are likely to emulate that in their daily contacts and not be reassuring to others.
Over communicate. Times of crisis is when we need daily, even hourly information. Think of TV news. 9/11 and the War in Iraq brought us minute-to-minute coverage in the hours after the events. But, in time TV was back with Regis and Kelly and the Oprah show. Some organizations follow the 5/3 rule. Five minutes of information three times a day. If you work in a setting where volunteer schedules are throughout the day and evening, this is an especially good way to communicate.
Debrief. When the crisis is over, review what happened. Talk about the things that could have been done to avoid the crisis in the first place (if the volunteer program has any control over this) and how the communication could have been better. This is learning through adversity.
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Keeping Meetings on Track
Ever wonder how some people keep meetings on track? Here are some phrases to help you at that next meeting that is careening off track.
is your Organization Quotient. Here is a quick quiz to see
how organized you are. Answer yes or no to the
Scoring: If you said yes to all six - call an organizational specialist immediately; three yes answers means you have some problems, but with a little effort they could be fixed. Less than three yes answers means youre OQ is good or great (zero yes answers); keep up the good work, and always be on the lookout for improvements.
WSU ONLINE CERTIFICATE IN VOLUNTEER MANAGEMENT
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.
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