~~ The Electronic Gazette for Volunteerism
MANAGEMENT & SUPERVISION
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.
Different people have different
motivational needs. In fact, the same volunteer can change motivational
needs if he/she stays with a program for a long time. The manager of volunteers
needs to have elements in the program that have the capacity to satisfy
various motivational needs. Here are the basic seven needs and some tips
on how to provide them in a volunteer program.
Motivational Basic Seven
Working in a safe environment with few hazards
or managed hazards. It includes predictable job tasks.
Consider the safety of your location; transportation to it,
parking. During recruitment provide information on how you manage
Be sure that position descriptions are clear and consistent
with the way the work is done now. No surprises.
Equipment is well maintained and safe.
Volunteers want to be treated fairly. Volunteers
talk to each other and make comparisons about how they are treated.
Never play favorites.
Give volunteers equal opportunities for leadership roles or
In publicity on the program highlight a wide variety of people.
Some volunteers enjoy interaction with other volunteers,
as well as clients, members, or patrons.
Plan social events for volunteers that are low-key and conveniently
Create planning and implementation committees for any and all
projects. Never go it alone.
Some volunteers need to know they are respected
and held in high esteem for the work they do.
Have a consistent and fair awards and recognition program.
Provide lots of feedback to volunteers.
Have a consistent plan for public recognition aside from the
Some volunteers prefer autonomy and independence
in work assignments.
Be sure there are positions where volunteers can set their own
Consult volunteers on the choices they can make about the work
Allow for some positions where the timing can be set by the
Be sure to have episodic and long term volunteer positions available.
Some volunteers are motivated
by the achievements of the program's mission or goals.
Gather information on outcome measures and publicize it widely.
Give the volunteers challenging work.
Provide feedback on the work done by volunteers; individually
and as a group.
Volunteers with power needs are
motivated by their ability to influence others and control the outcome
of a project.
Provide opportunities for leadership.
Rotate committee chair positions to allow people to grow leadership
Give these volunteers the opportunity to publicly persuade others
of the value of the program.
Interested in more information? Check out our online
bookstore for Volunteer Management: Mobilizing All the Resources
of the Community, authored by Steve McCurley and Rick Lynch, and Building
Effective Volunteer Committess, authored by Nancy Macduff.
Volunteers give time freely to organizations.
What do they get back? There are a raft of intangibles - see the article
above for a list of those things. But organizations can also provide
"tangible" perks. This is common in business and can be
a motivator to retain volunteers.
Begin by making a list of things done
for volunteers in your program. Then get some new ideas from the list
Parking near the building where the volunteers work
Free coffee, tea, or other beverages
Safe place to put valuables or hang coats or sweaters
Attractive clothing that serves to identify volunteers
If the organization has a cafeteria, reduced cost coupons when the
volunteer works all day
Reduced cost of tickets for special events
Get restaurants to donate one meal free for a second purchased meal.
Randomly award them to volunteers once per month
10 gallons of gasoline for awarding to volunteers
Arrange for produce to be donated; tomatoes, pumpkins, cucumbers,
and make available for volunteers.
Irish or Polish jokes are in bad taste,
and dumb blonde jokes are surely politically incorrect. Whether you
approve or not, the use of humor in the work place has undergone a
change. There is a whole new perspective on what is acceptable. Volunteers
enjoy fun and good humor, even when they work in a challenging and
potentially grim environment. Here are some tips to lighten the load
for volunteers and paid staff and stay within the boundaries of acceptable
Poke fun at yourself. Laughing at yourself shows you as an accessible
person. And it demonstrates that you do not take yourself too seriously.
Example: "My office is such a mess that I need a TV show to come
and reorganize it for me."
Situations faced by the team: joking about things that the team of
volunteers faces is acceptable. Hardworking volunteers often put in
late hours to get ready for big events, or the team survives the installation
of a new computer system, or remodeling of a bathroom. Example: "When
this thing is done, we'll probably be two years older, even though it's
only been six hours since we started on this!"
Volunteer quirks: while it is totally inappropriate to joke about
race/ethnicity and physical characteristics, people are often less sensitive
about their "personality" traits. Humor statements about those
(as long as it is not over done) can lighten the atmosphere. Example:
"We are delighted Betsy is here, but we all know she would rather
Interested in assessing volunteer and
staff relations in your program?
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