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VolunteerToday.com ~~ The Electronic Gazette for Volunteerism

ASK CONNIE
V.T. readers ask questions about volunteer management and administration. Ask Connie, an experienced volunteer manager, consultant and trainer, provides the answers for all to see.
Send questions to AskConnieP@cs.com


~ January 2004 ~ Topics

Horn Players Image New Year’s Resolutions for Career Development

Happy New Year! I hope that your holidays were fun and festive! One of the many articles I read at year-end was in The Washington Post. It was titled, “Resolving to Grow on the Job – Advice for Twentysomethings.” As I read it I realized that it was good advice that applies to all of us, regardless of age. So, with credit to The Post, I offer some sound resolutions for your career development that I hope you’ll consider this year. Good luck!

Are you going back to school this year? Have you signed up for a series of lunch 'n learn programs at your local Volunteer Center? Are you exploring your budget to find money to attend the AVA conference in Portland, Oregon next October? Share your plans with your colleagues across the country! Just send them to AskConnie. I'll compile them and put them in a future column. Good luck and thanks for all that you do!

Ask for a raise. If you’re being paid less than you’re worth, do something about it. The key is doing your research before you go to your supervisor. Take a look at the annual salary survey published by Nonprofit Times. The average salary last year for a Director of Volunteers was $35,267.
Smarten up. Going back to school isn’t just for those who want to switch careers; it can also invigorate the one you’ve got. Many universities now offer online certificate programs in volunteer management. For example, Washington State University has an excellent program. To learn more about it, visit WSU Certificate Program. If a return to the classroom won’t fit your budget or schedule, subscribe to a trade magazine (such as Nonprofit Times or Chronicle of Philanthropy), or find a Web community devoted to the issues that concern you (such as CyberVPM, a listserv for volunteer program managers that is hosted by the Association for Volunteer Administration). The new perspectives and skills you pick up from teachers, classmates or professional peers could be just what it takes to snap you out of a rut.
Be a joiner. Trade association dues may look steep, but they are often worth it. At the conferences, look past the canned slide shows and shrimp cocktail and see these meetings for what they really are: prime networking ground. There are many such organizations to fit your interests and issues, such as the Association for Volunteer Administration (AVA) or the American Association for Museum Volunteers. There are also many regional and local networks of managers of volunteer programs. For an extensive list, visit AVA and click on “Networking.”
Update your resume. Even if you’re not actively looking for a new job, brushing up your resume gives you a chance to review what you’ve accomplished so far and make sure this all-important document accurately reflects that. Plus, it’s a great way to feel really good about yourself and your career!
Lunch with a purpose. Instead of eating a sandwich at your desk, meet with someone new at least once a month. It could be an acquaintance who works for another nonprofit organization in your community, a colleague from another department in your organization, or a key supplier. As the primary advocate for your volunteer program, it’s important to share the news about the program’s accomplishments and current volunteer opportunities with as many people as possible. You just might find an underwriter for an event or project you’re planning!
Take care of your health. The dividends of this won’t be limited to the office, but it’s hard to overstate how much more energy you’ll have at work – and when you leave at the end of the day – if you eat well, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep.
Polish your wardrobe. If it doesn’t fit, throw it out. Replace some of those old standbys that may be looking a bit worn. The way you dress sends a powerful message about you and the volunteer program too!
Get organized. No matter where you fall on the general neatness scale, it’s likely you’ll get a productivity boost from a good cleaning. Close old files. Make new labels. Reorganize your workspace for more efficiency. Being well organized is one of the keys to managing a successful volunteer program.
Work less. More hours don’t mean more productivity. Figure out what you need to accomplish every day and try to get as much of it done before lunch as possible. If you have more than 8 hours of work every day (and who doesn’t!), identify tasks and projects that you can train volunteers to do.
Leave the job you hate. I know many of us still feel the labor market is on shaky ground. But don’t let your fears pin you into a situation that’s making you miserable. We spend more time at our jobs that we do with our families. If toxic co-workers are giving you an ulcer, leave. If you’re being micromanaged into paralysis, leave. If a boss ever tells you that you should “just be grateful to have a job,” leave. Work shouldn’t be a prison; you deserve a chance to give your labor to something you love.

Are you going back to school this year? Have you signed up for a series of lunch 'n learn programs at your local Volunteer Center? Are you exploring your budget to find money to attend the AVA conference in Portland, Oregon next October? Share your plans with your colleagues across the country! Just send them to AskConnie. I'll compile them and put them in a future column. Good luck and thanks for all that you do!


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Do you have a question? Now you too can ask an expert!

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.

Send your questions to Connie at AskConnieP@cs.com.
Connie Pirtle
Strategic Nonprofit Resources
10103 Edward Avenue * Bethesda, MD 20814 * VOICE: 301-530-8233 * FAX: 301-530-8299


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