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.
operate more effectively when they work in an environment of trust.
The tips below are applicable to the manager of volunteers and staff
who supervise volunteers. Share it; trust is a powerful motivator!
not withhold information. Keep volunteers well informed, even with
the bad stuff.
spy on volunteers. Make sure your guidelines for a task or job are
crystal clear, set timelines, have a monitoring process, and then
get out of the way and let the volunteers do the work.
when you make mistakes. Volunteers have respect for the person who
owns up to their failings, laughs at themselves, and moves on. It
makes the ultimate human connection.
abandon volunteers. Support volunteers and their efforts, it pays
off in the long run.
clear when assigning task. Volunteers are neither weak nor meek. Be
clear about the challenges in any task. Be straightforward. Never
manipulate or apologize. Just tell it like it is!
based organizations are increasingly being urged to collaborate with
others. There is a growing emphasis on building consensus around decisions
in an organization where several departments are involved. Volunteer
projects of long standing are shifting and changing in response to the
way people want to give service (less long term, more episodic). The
up shot of all this activity is the need for managers of volunteers
and others to develop skills in building consensus. Here are some tips
to do just that.
Select the team with care. This is not advice to bring all the
people who think alike together. It is advised to bring people
together that have respect for those who are different. For example,
for some people logic and planning are the way to build consensus,
for others people need to feel right about change before it can
happen. Having people on the team representing those two views
means the plans for change are more likely to work for greater
numbers of people.
Respect both thinking and feeling opinions. Truth is truth to the
person speaking their opinion. What must be dealt with in any plan
is that truth to that individual. Being validated for
ones opinions is a motivator to participate and listen to
others. And that can lead to a willingness to flex when it is called
Depending on the group, how long it will be together, and many other
factors, it might be wise to have an outsider administer one of
the more reputable personality inventories. A short session (say
four hours) can help people understand one another better and make
it easier to get to consensus. The Meyers Briggs Type Inventory
is excellent for this. Be sure you have a certified administrator
(it IS a psychological instrument, after all), and the real test,
not something off the Internet.
Create shared experiences. Teams work best when they create their
own history. It allows for a common experience that is both explanatory
and emotional. An example of this might be the sharing of data about
the project on which the group is working. Then an exercise of discussing
Glads, Sads, Mads allows the team to discuss values,
beliefs, attitudes, and thinking on the topic. All this is in an
effort to move toward consensus.
Make sure there are loads and loads of communication. The team needs
to see and hear a variety of types of information, presented in
many different formats as the process of coming to consensus moves
along. It also includes mixing the group up in small group exercise
to reduce cliques or individuals banding together. Team building
exercises are essential, even as the work is being done.
of volunteers are always in the midst of creating some type of written
material; brochures, applications, position descriptions, web information,
email newsletter, and the list seems endless. Here are some tips on
proof reading to avoid those nasty typos.
it. Let it sit 24 hours. Then re-read it!
it aloud and dont skip words.
when it is quiet, even if it means coming in early or going home late.
you will find mistakes.
for one type of error at a time; verify all dates and times; check
all phone numbers; check the spelling of all names; etc.
breaks. Do not proof read for longer than 45 minutes or one hour before
taking a break.
someone with excellent English (or other language) grammar and spelling
skills. Ask them to proof read for spelling and typos.
your computer to do grammar and spell check, but be careful, the computer
isnt always right.
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.