I am seeking information on how to help the docents do things differently and to urge them to accept a change in a tour that has been intact for about 15 years.
When I'm making change with volunteers, I ask myself these questions:
I am the new Volunteer Coordinator here. I oversee a large number of great volunteers. My supervisor wants me to create a Volunteer Recognition Program, e.g., volunteer of the month. I am not sure that this would be the best idea. How do you pick out one person each month without upsetting everybody else? Do you have some ideas for alternatives that would please everybody?
Personally, I don't favor singling out one volunteer for recognition for all the obvious reasons. But having said that, I believe that it can work ONLY when there is quantifiable, objective criteria such as number of hours worked, number of tickets sold, money raised, etc. (This assumes that there is a system in place at your organization to track such things accurately.) The risk of recognizing only one individual monthly is that it sets up artificial competition that's contrary to the purpose of recognition (to recognize ALL volunteers for the time and talents they contribute). Competition can also easily lead to volunteers forgetting about how important it is to accomplish an organization's mission and focusing instead on the numbers required to receive the monthly "award." I know many organizations have monthly or annual awards, but I personally vote for recognizing volunteer leaders and all volunteers in appropriate ways.
Another idea to consider is to develop a recognition plan, which contains specific strategies to recognize volunteers in a variety of ways and under a variety of circumstances. Your plan would be a yearlong outline of recognition activities (birthday cards, newsletter features, personal notes, letter from Executive Director, etc.) and events (recognition luncheon, party, behind-the-scenes tour, etc.) that you undertake to ensure that volunteers are recognized in a consistent manner. A plan would also involve creating a budget to support it.
There are many excellent books on recognition available at the Volunteer Today Bookstore and at Energize, Inc. Browse through both bookstores and take your pick from "Recognizing Volunteers and Paid Staff: The Art, The Science, and a Gazillion Ideas!" (VT site) to "77 Ways to Recognize Volunteers" (Energize site).
Is there a law in California that states we must provide Workers Comp to our volunteers? What kind of liability is there using volunteers and how does an agency protect itself?
I don't know about specific California law, but in my experience Workers Comp laws don't generally apply to volunteers because they aren't salaried "workers." Most nonprofit organizations have umbrella liability insurance that covers all staff, board, and volunteers against liability that might occur in the course of performing their duties for the organization. For more information on risk management issues involving volunteers, check out the Nonprofit Risk Management Center. Be sure to read the free article/tutorial on Volunteer Risk Management. The link to it is in the extreme right column about halfway down the home page. There are many good resources at this site and I encourage you to take advantage of them.
Connie Pirtle, of Strategic NonProfit-Resources, has 15 years' experience in working with volunteers. She has consulted and/or trained for such organizations as the Washington National Cathedral, Anchorage Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Music America, and the Association for Volunteer Administration.
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