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VolunteerToday.com~~ The Electronic Gazette for Volunteerism


Visit this page for ideas, suggestions and hints to build volunteer recruitment capacity.

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~ March 2004 ~ Topics

Best Practices in Volunteer Management: Tips Online

A recent email from Rosanna Tarsiero on the CyberVPM listserv, sponsored by the Association for Volunteer Administration, recommended some sites “around the world” as having listings of best practices in volunteer management. Volunteer Today decided to visit the sites and provide a review for our readers.

The UPS Corporation has a Web site with helpful information. One resource booklet is for two audiences; first, the corporate volunteer program; and second those seeking grants from corporation. It builds a case for businesses to establish a formalized employee volunteer program and gives “chapter and verse” on why this is a sound “business” decision. The second part of the document gives advice on how to prepare to request funds from a corporate volunteer program. This is one of several resource documents on this site useful to people managing volunteer programs—nonprofit, corporate, or government.

To visit the site: http://www.community.ups.com/community/philanthropy/toolbox.html

Selling Health That Volunteering Can Bring

Here are some things that frequently happen when people serve as volunteers:

  • The person is open to new experiences
  • Sees oneself as growing over time
  • Is expanding his/her horizons
  • Has a purpose in life
  • Possesses goals
  • Has a sense of competence in managing everyday activities

What do these things have in common? According to a study by Sheldon Cohen, of Carnegie Mellon University, they are some of the predictors of health and happiness. The study found positive associations between these characteristics and reduced vulnerability to disease.

Cohen’s study found that people who are happy, relaxed, and positive were less likely to catch colds than people with more negative emotional styles, depressed, hostile, tense. The positive folks have lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. He proposes that this reduces people’s susceptibility to disease.

Consider providing this type of information in recruiting appeals. Many people worry about their health. Becoming a volunteer can frequently change people’s view and help them be more positive and that contributes to better health.

(Source: “Health and Happiness,” The Futurist, January-February 2004)

Telling Someone “No, You Cannot Be a Volunteer With Our Organization”

Screening volunteers means there will come a time when it is determined someone who is interested in helping cannot be a volunteer. The individual does not meet the qualifications required for the position, a reference suggests the person would be inappropriate, or a raft of other reasons. Now, your job is to tell someone “no.” Here are some tips to help you get through the ordeal. But, it is important to say that there is NO way this is an easy task.

  • Have your “ducks-in-a-row.” This decidedly Americanism term means have your paper work and facts all lined up and ready to go. This means a copy of the position description, application, volunteer policy manual, reference summaries, etc. You want to create the impression that this is a planned and not capricious decision. It also provides reference material, should questions arise.
  • State facts in a simple way. Be clear as to the reason this is an inappropriate placement for this volunteer. For example, suppose “consistency” is one of the qualifications for the position. In the interview and checking references, it became clear that this requirement would be difficult for the individual. Describe the importance of consistency to the program and clients. Then describe things the prospective volunteer said in the interview and how that was confirmed in checking references.
  • Never hide behind “excuses.” Explain the thinking behind the requirements, rules, or policies. These things are put in place to protect volunteers, clients, and the organization. Remind the person that there desire to help is commendable and you want to make sure that the placement is one that will be satisfying to them, or he/she might have a bad experience. That bad experience could lead to them swearing off volunteering altogether. And you do not want to be the cause of that happening. Find a better placement for the person is as much for the individual as it is for the organization and its clients.
  • Offer an alternative. Most volunteer programs have ample ways in which people can help out. If possible, come prepared with some other positions you think might be more suited to the person’s interests. If that fails, suggest other community agencies or programs where the person’s talents would be used to best advantage.
  • Arrange for a try-out. If the individual reluctantly say, “Oh, O.K., I suppose I could do something else,” arrange for a tryout. Let the person visit the area of your organization where you think they might work best. Have other volunteers give them the “insider” view. Let a couple days pass and then call to find out what they think and if they are ready to serve in a different capacity. If the person wants to tryout a different organization, make the arrangements for them. Talk to your counterpart in that organization and tell them what has happened and why you are recommending this. If convenient you might even meeting them at the other organization to make introductions.
  • No matter what, end politely. Be sure to say thank you and explain that placements only work when there is a match between the position and the person. You want to send out a “satisfied” customer, even though they were told no. The more professional your approach to this situation, the more likely the person will be to tell other people how nicely he/she was treated instead of “trash-talking” your organization.

Interested in more information? Check out our online bookstore for: Volunteer Screening: An Audio Workbook and Volunteer Recruiting & Retention, A Marketing Approach, by author and managing editor Nancy Macduff. For more information, check out these books and more at our online bookstore.

Volunteer Screening Book Image Recruiting & Retention Book Image


The Points of Light Foundation has forms available to nominate volunteers and volunteer organizations for the Daily Points of Light Award. It is designed recognize individuals and groups that demonstrate unique and innovative approaches to community volunteering and citizen action, with a strong emphasis on service focused on the goals for children and young people set by the Presidents Summit for American's Future. The award is given five days a week, excluding holidays. If you would like nomination forms, call 202-729-8000.

By calling 1-800-VOLUNTEER in the U.S., individuals can be connected to their local volunteer center.
This is a national interactive call routing system designed to get volunteers connected to people who can help them volunteer.

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