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.
people hate meetings, paid staff and volunteers, alike. So how can you
plan meetings that people beg to attend? Here are some tips!
input from those attending the meeting and make an agenda.
it out to everyone with an estimate of the time needed for each
to your timetable. To accomplish the most at each meeting see the
diagram at the end of the article.
a copy of the agenda on easel paper or in a handout.
can be by putting someone in charge of an item on the agenda. Let
them lead the discussion.
with the people who are presenting to plan for involvement by participants.
usual rule is 15 to 20 minute breaks. Cut the breaks to 5
enough breaks for trips to the rest room or bathroom or to stretch
in the hall.
types of breaks help keep people alert.
people with different points of view:
the domineering members under control.
people for an opinion, Say, Juan, we havent heard from
you. What do you think about this?
for different views in a planned way; list the pros and cons; positive
and negative, etc.
people into small groups to discuss topics. Then the groups give
different views on the topic.
forms, make sure everyone has one.
from real situations.
studies, based on reality, can be used to make decisions and promote
a short verbal summary of what was accomplished at the meeting.
a meeting summary to share with those who could not attend in
writing. Distribute to everyone.
a separate sheet To Do List for those who volunteered
to do things after the meeting. Color paper brings attention to
have show that how you organize the content of a meeting can also impact
what is accomplished and how satisfied people are with meetings. We have
created a document you can print that illustrates the best way to organize
a meeting. You will need Adobe Acrobat to download this diagram, but Adobe
Acrobat is free! (http://www.adobe.com).
Take a look at the time frame for a two hour meeting and how to organize
it for maximum effectiveness.
dont need a paper newsletter anymore, we send information out
via email!" 'Our folks hate email, we only do a paper newsletter."
those words are things you have said, or something like them, you
need to read on. Here are some ideas on the venerable volunteer newsletter.
Paper Mailed Newsletter
venerable paper newsletter to all volunteers is an institution
for some volunteer programs. Consider the cost:
many hours to write it? Multiple hours by a fair hourly wage
for the person doing it (even if they are a volunteer!)
many hours to format it?
much paper is used? (toner, copier time, etc.)
to assemble and prepare to mail?
to post office?
mailed newsletter has positive characteristics. You can do longer
articles highlighting volunteers, or tips on being a better
volunteer, for example. You can put in a monthly calendar of
events, meetings, or training sessions. It is a regular connection
with the person who is volunteering. This keeps the organization
in the mind of the volunteer.
all the positives have to be balanced against the cost. Many
managers of volunteers think that if a volunteer does the newsletter,
it is free, but that volunteer could be doing something else
with that time that might be more effective and needed. And
some trees might be saved by going paperless.
might be time to do a serious analysis of this type of newsletter
and the value of continuing it into the future.
is where you write a newsletter and post it on the organizations
Web site. Volunteers receive an email message that the newsletter
is posted, with a hot link directly to the site in the body
of the email. There is still the time required to write and
format it, but there is no paper, copying, ink, postage, or
trips to the postal office. So, money and some time are save.
In fact, once a template is established for this newsletter
it could be done in short order.
down side of this endeavor is that not everyone is on the Web
or has the sophistication to download a newsletter. And you
need someone with some familiarity with designing and writing
for the Web. It is not the same as writing for a paper newsletter.
on the computer is 25% less efficient than reading on paper,
and those pesky pixels are tough on the eyes. Most people find
a long document, like a newsletter, they download it, print
and then try to get around to reading it.
are possible solutions to the problems:
the newsletter into a PDF format for ease of printing. Readers
will thank you.
the newsletter is easy to print, copies can be mailed to those
without Web access.
need to be kept on where and how people prefer to receive
messages do not newsletters make! Do not write looooooong email
messages, call them email newsletters and sent them out. Email
was never intended to be lengthy and it really annoys people.
email can be used with an attached document. This is a solution
between the paper newsletter and the Web newsletter. A written
newsletter is compiled and formatted. It is saved in a printable
version (Word or PDF). Then an email is sent with the newsletter
attached. The attachment can be downloaded and printed if the
person wishes to do so, or they can read on the screen. For
people with no computers the newsletter can be printed by staff
and mailed. It is cheaper than the paper mailed newsletter,
but more expensive than the Web-based newsletter.
fax machine can be used to distribute a written newsletter to
everyone in the volunteer corps, or just to those who cannot receive
it in a more economical fashion. This is also a useful tool for
all-volunteer organizations. Everyone who has a fax machine receives
the newsletter via fax, only those without a fax receive it in
the mail. Again, good record keeping is essential to any of these
communication to long-term continuous service volunteers, the
regulars, is a good motivational tool, but the delivery mechanism
needs to be cost effective. Perhaps it is time to form a newsletter
team and begin the process of doing it more effectively and efficiently.
vast majority of those who manage volunteers come with different career
or academic backgrounds. In fact, people who work in nonprofit programs
usually have no formal training in the special skills needed to manage
in the third sector. Administrators in government agencies with volunteer
programs have little or no knowledge of volunteerism. This strange set
of circumstances provides a huge avenue for someone in an organization
to become the expert on volunteerism. Not knowledge in an
arrogant or overbearing manner, but knowledge that can help the organization
and the people in it grow and develop.
manager of volunteer programs can become that expert, thus increasing
his/her value to the organization. Obviously participating in college
or certificate programs can help you do this, but not every manager
of volunteers has the time or money to do that. Here are some alternate
strategies to increase your knowledge.
your vocabulary. Learn the lingo. Help the organization understand
there are terms used in volunteerism by academics and practitioners.
Episodic volunteer is the correct terminology for those who provide
short-term service of several types to the organization, for example.
Insist on a title that accurately reflects the job of the person who
manages volunteers. Not volunteer manager, as this implies
a volunteer is managing something. How about: Manager of volunteer services;
coordinator of volunteers, director of volunteers.
the right publications. Vocabulary is built by reading the material
related to the profession. In managing volunteers or working in a nonprofit
those publications are things such as The Chronicle of Philanthropy,
Grapevine, Volunteer Today, Energize Web site, e-Volunteerism, Journal
of Volunteer Administration.
a daily newspaper. Scan the newspaper each day for articles relating
to nonprofits and volunteerism. For example, two topics impacting nonprofits
in 2004 are the loss of contributions and misuse of funds by some organizations.
Read what is being written on these topics. When you see a good idea
or have a question, talk to the administrator. Your knowledge and interest
in the total organization will be noticed. If a discussion is underway
at a staff meeting about money, ask about transparency.
(See article on the News page of this newsletter if you dont know
what the word means in the world of volunteerism). You will surprise
people with your professional expertise.
research. When you encounter terms or words used in your organization
that are unfamiliar, find out what they mean. This is the Look
it up admonition. The same is true for volunteerism terms. Type
the word into Google and find out what it means. Then use
it. It is not showing off. Accountants, doctors, teachers use language
and terms particular to their profession, so should the manager of volunteer
programs. And it encourages people in your organization to use the right
vocabulary as well.
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.