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Celebrating 21 Years of Serving Manager of Volunteers

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~ August 2004 ~ Topics

Do You Remember?

The year is 1993 – Do You Remember?Black Swirls Image

  • First time Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday celebrated in all fifty states.
  • Holocaust Memorial Museum dedicated.
  • Kim Campbell elected as Canada’s 19th Prime Minister and the 1st female to hold the office.
  • Great Blizzard of 1993 strikes eastern North America from Quebec to Cuba, killing 93.

Arrow Image July and August 21st Anniversary Celebration Sales Arrow Image

  • Bundle #3: $21.00
    1. Surviving Burnout, by Sue Vineyard
    2. An Untapped Resource: Working with Volunteers Who Are Mentally Ill, by John Weaver
    3. Designing Programs for the Volunteer Sector, by Nancy Macduff
  • Bundle #4: $60.00
    1. Altruists and Volunteers: Life Histories, by Dr. William Stephens
    2. Managing Volunteers in Record Time, by Nan Hawthorne
    3. Volunteer Screening: An Audio Workbook, by Nancy Macduff

Check out this great opportunity to save 21% off publications from MBA Publishing. To order, go to the Volunteer Today Bookstore. Our September issue brings new books bundles; don't forget to check back often.

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A Volunteer’s First Impression

I want you to think about new volunteers for your organization. How long is the new Volunteer’s 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:

  1. "Oh, ummm, hold on a minute, OK? (Put-upon sigh) Ok – are you on the schedule? Did you do an orientation? What are you supposed to do for us?"
  2. "Hi Marie! We saw you were on the schedule today! This is your first volunteering for us today, isn't it? We're really glad to have another (animal lover – mission advocate) on the team! I'll tell your 'first-day mentor' you are here."

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?

Screen Bean Climbers ImageIs 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 randal@bmi.net.

See our online bookstore for Nan Hawthorne's books: Building Better Relationships with Volunteers, Managing Volunteers in Record Time and Recognizing Volunteers: Right From the Start.

Building Better Book Image Managing Book Image Recognizing Book Image

Words From the Past


Yellow-colored highlight pens are effective tools to highlight the main topics from written material. But they leave a black smudge when photo-copying. Some blue highlighting pens use a shade of ink that is not read by copiers. If you want to highlight, but protect the document for future copies, think blue!

---from VT, March 1988


6. The six most important words: "I admit I made a mistake."
5. The five most important words: "You did a good job."
4. The four most important words: "What is your opinion?"
3. The three most important words: "If you please."
2. The two most important words: "Thank you."
1. The one most important word: "We."

---from VT, December 1987


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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