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VolunteerToday.com~~ 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.

Management Image

~ March 2004 ~ Topics

Your Professional Development

DOVIA. Does that mean anything to you? It stands for Directors of Volunteers in Agencies Colleagues Image(DOVIA). If you are familiar with this term it is likely you know that training and networking are available through a membership in such a group and maybe even are a member of your local DOVIA. If not, you need to find out if such a group exists in your community and join.

A professional association of managers or coordinators of volunteers is the same as the local association for attorneys, CPAs, or doctors. It is a place where you can meet professional colleagues, share experiences, get answers to questions, get training, find out what is new in the management of volunteers, and relax among friends and colleagues. The organization is not always called DOVIA, but is usually has a “professional association” as part of its title. The best way to find out whether such an organization exists in your area is to check with experienced managers of volunteers or call United Way. These folks are likely to know who to contact for more information. There is a listing of DOVIA organizations at http://www.energizeinc.com. It is arranged by state and province.

Managing volunteers is a lonely job, usually done by one person in an organization, so the only people who really understand the day-to-day challenges are other managers of volunteers. Belonging to a DOVIA is the best way to get connected, and you are worth the time you spend in professional development!

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Volunteer Contributions In Hospitals

The Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of hospitals in Ontario, Canada have positive perceptions of volunteers. This fact is the result of a study by Femida Handy, York University and Narasimhan Srinivasan, University of Connecticut for the Canadian Centre for Philanthropy’s Canada Volunteerism Initiative. Here are some of the results of the study.

  • 27 hospitals around the metropolitan area of Toronto were the target of this study.
  • The respondents were asked about their perceptions of volunteer resources at their hospital.
  • The contribution of volunteers to the quality of patient care (spending time with patients, reducing anxiety for families, establishing trust) was rated on a scale of 1 – 10, with one being not at all and 10 being indispensable. The average rating was 8.3 by CEOs, 9.0 by managers, 8.4 by staff, and 8.7 by volunteers.
  • CEOs were asked to identify volunteer activities that most enhanced patient care.
    • 72%, the most often cited, was providing patients with human contact.
    • The next most frequently mentioned, 17%, was contact with families by providing information.
  • All hospitals said they believe the volunteer program was cost effective.
  • Most CEOs saw volunteers as providing valuable services at little cost, but playing an important public relations role by their interaction with patients and family members.
  • The biggest challenges facing hospitals was expanding the volunteer program. 72% of CEOs identified a lack of resources to recruit, train, and supervise additional volunteers.
  • Many CEOs viewed short-term volunteers as a drain on resources.
  • Some solutions suggested to make the hospital a more attractive place for volunteers included, more interesting assignments, volunteering from home, and more flexible hours.

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Looking for Recognition Items

Pins, t-shirts, tote bags, plaques and more are available at Volunteer Gifts. Generic items are available through this online site, or more personalized items for volunteer recognition. The Web site is easy to maneuver and has good pictures in a couple of sizes, so you can see what you are buying. Take a look for yourself at http://www.VolunteerGifts.com.

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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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