VolunteerToday.com ~~ The Electronic Gazette
VT readers ask questions about volunteer
management and administration. Ask Connie, an experienced volunteer
manager, consultant and trainer, provides the answers for all to
Send questions to AskConnieP@cs.com
I recently went to a volunteer director's networking meeting where the topic
was volunteer appreciation. The presenter was from a large government organization
with lots of money and resource. They were giving their volunteers all kinds
of wonderful things like books and jewelry and paintings for hours of service.
I left thinking, cool, but were struggling to stay open, we dont
have the money to give away large things like that. I want to find a nice
way of saying thanks to all of our organizations wonderful volunteers,
but have a really small budget to do that with. Aside from verbally thanking
volunteers for their work, what do you suggest?
In my experience it's easy to provide appropriate recognition in inexpensive
ways. When I was actively managing volunteers, I used to always be on
the lookout for inexpensive little items that I could tie to a theme.
For example, one year I gave volunteers a small packet of blank notes
that I wrapped with ribbon. My card to them said, "Thanks for being
a noteworthy volunteer!" Another year I gave them little tops and
said, "Thanks for being a top volunteer!" Other easy and inexpensive
Birthday cards to individuals
Birthday parties every month for individuals born that month
A volunteer of the year award based on an established point system
or on nominations
An annual luncheon, dinner, and/or party to say thank you to all volunteers
Notices in the newsletter about special accomplishments by volunteers
Pictures on the office bulletin board of volunteers in action
Something fun during National Volunteer Week (April 17-23, 2005)
Im going to do an evaluation by volunteers of our program. What advice
do you have for me before I create my survey?
Heres my Top 10 Tips on surveys:
Keep it focused ~ don't use this opportunity to ask volunteers
everything you ever wanted to know. Do that in another survey next
Keep it short ~ back and front of one page maximum.
No essay questions ~ use multiple choice, true/false, etc.
You can leave room at each question for a "Comment Line."
You'll get a higher rate of return from volunteers if it takes only
10 minutes to complete.
Thank them ~ at the beginning and the end of the survey.
Give Instructions ~ why a survey and how/when to return it
at the beginning AND the end of the survey.
Field test ~ ask a few volunteers to complete the survey
and get their feedback on how to improve it before you distribute
it to the entire group.
Promote it ~ if you have any sort of advisory group of volunteers,
get their feedback on how to promote the survey and encourage volunteers
to complete it.
Award a prize ~ for the first 10, 15, you-pick-the-number
of surveys returned. You can award a free lunch, a coffee mug, calendar,
paperweight, free parking, or open rehearsal tickets (you get the
idea). By creating a "buzz" about the survey, your rate
of return will most likely be higher.
Share results ~ we all hate to spend our time providing information
to someone or something and then never know "whatever happened
to............" So, compile a brief executive summary or chart
or whatever and distribute it to ALL volunteers not just those who
participated. (No need to punish the ones who didn't participate.
You'll likely want them to change behavior and/or take on new ideas
from the survey too.) And be sure to share the results with your supervisor
and your colleagues on the staff. Even if their work isn't directly
affected by the survey, never miss an opportunity for what I call
Evaluate the process ~ take a few minutes to put on paper
what worked in this survey process and what you'll do differently
next time. Don't rely on your memory to improve the process the next
time. There's too much to do between now and then and you'll likely
forget! Also, make a list of the good ideas and suggestions you picked
up along the way. It will save you time later.
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.
Strategic Nonprofit Resources
10103 Edward Avenue * Bethesda, MD 20814 * VOICE: 301-530-8233 * FAX: