Do You Remember?
The year is 1993 Do You Remember?
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A Volunteers First Impression
I want you to think about new volunteers for your organization. How long is the new Volunteers first working experience for your organization? A two-hour slot? An hour?
Focus more tightly: think about his or her first three minutes. Three Minutes! It may help you to deeply understand your volunteers' first three minutes better, to go and volunteer yourself somewhere. What experience do you have in the first three minutes? How do you feel about it, and about the organization you volunteered for? What do you see, smell, hear, touch, in your first three minutes?
Is she expected?
Compare the two greetings below:
Now, Truth: which of the first impressions above most resembles the one your organization gives?
Is the first person your new volunteer encounters on the first day informed about the volunteer's arrival? Does everyone on the staff know what attitude and information is expected if a volunteer manages to come in the wrong door, or encounter someone other than who was intended?
Is his job well-explained?
Do you designate and prepare someone to be there for the first-time volunteer? This can be a manager, a line-worker, the Grand Poo-bah, or another volunteer. Anyone who really understands the job and has been prepared for the task of helping a newbie on their first day can provide detailed orientation to the task as a 'first-day mentor.'
Preparation for the mentor should include the name, scheduled time of duty, and anything from the new volunteer's application information that is important or relevant. Attitude is critical, as the volunteer's experience will be colored in his memory mostly by the mentor's attitude. Be certain that the mentor addresses comfort issues, like break room or restroom locations, security of personal belongings, and what to do if there is a question or problem. Reinforce the mission.
Practice with your staff. Put yourself in the role of a new volunteer, and arrive for a duty shift. Experience what happens with fresh eyes, ears, and nose. You will find opportunities to improve your new volunteers' first three minutes.
And guess what? More of them will come back, advancing your mission, and telling other potential volunteers about the great experience they are having. Imagine: a waiting list to become a volunteer at your organization!
R. Randal Son is founder and Principal of Many Waters Community Development in Walla Walla, WA. He has over 20 years experience with volunteer programs in a variety of settings. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Words From the Past
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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