Baby boomers, Gen X, Generation Y, the
Millennials, what do each of the groups want from a volunteer position?
Find out about the latest research from Mary Merrill, editor of the
Journal of Volunteer Administration. She maintains a personal web site
with articles on the differences in generations. Here are three current
topics and their Web Addresses:
Volunteers do retire. Sometimes an experienced volunteer
needs to stay home with small children, go back into the workforce, care
for an elderly relative, or travel the world. When the person leaves it
can be traumatic for the organization. Volunteers are often reluctant
to depart because they know how it will impact the overall program. The
individual does not wish to disappoint staff, volunteers, or clients.
How can the trauma be reduced? A Pre-retirement Program could be the answer.
Form a committee of experienced volunteers to help set
up such a program. These are people who might have to take advantage of
this in the future and can advise on what would work.
Develop a brochure that is shared with volunteers signing
up for long-term assignments that spells out the details of how the organization
likes to handle the departure of experienced volunteers. Here are some
things to consider in a Volunteer Pre-Retirement Program.
Offer volunteers a sabbatical. Keep the volunteer on the mailing list
and in the loop, but give them six months
or a year to take a break. And when the agreed upon time is up be sure
to call and inquire about their return. Offer them an "ease-in"
type of task so they are not overwhelmed with restarting their involvement
with the organization.
Establish a time minimum for notification of departure. Consider establishing
a minimum time prior to departure that would help the organization make
a smooth transition. It could be three to six months.
Gather information on work done. Develop a system of gathering written
information from the volunteer on the work done. It is not enough to
hand them a pad of paper and say, "Write it down." Rather
set an appointment with another volunteer and the retiree. Provide some
standard questions. The result of the interview then becomes the basis
of a "desk manual" outlining the person's job.
Create a period of job sharing. Recruit a volunteer or two who can
be trained to replace the retiree. Have the retiree cut back on their
effort and do a job share with the other people. This means the experienced
person is available for the work and for questions when the new team
is taking on responsibilities.
Provide references. Some volunteers might benefit from references
from the program. Decide what form that should take and how it will
be provided to the volunteer.
Interested in more information? Check out our online
bookstore for: Recruiting Volunteers for Difficult or Long Term Assignments,
by Steve McCurley and Volunteer Recruiting & Retention, A Marketing
Approach, and Designing Programs for the Volunteer Sector, by
author and managing editor Nancy Macduff.
Are You New to Your Job?
Did you just start as the manager of volunteers?
Did you inherit a group of very experienced volunteers who loved your
predecessor? Here are some tips to get you started on the "right
Depending on when the volunteers work (how and where), draw
them all together and introduce yourself. Give a brief introduction.
Practice it and keep it to less than two minutes.
Explain why you are there. "Barbara left to run the volunteer
program at the hospital. I know you wish her well and her years
of experience working with you will help her in the new job."
Then move on to why you think you were hired for the position.
"I have a work history that includes raising money. As you
know we will be recruiting new volunteers who will work in that
area, but I am excited to work with those of you who provide the
non-money type of service this program is noted for."
Tell them your immediate plan. Summarize what you hope to accomplish
in the next month. Bigger goals can come later. "I will need
your help to accomplish my goals. You will need to help me understand
all the things volunteers do in the organization. I have a general
view, but I know I can count on you to give me the details."
Make plans for small group meetings. Explain that you will be
meeting with small groups of volunteers to learn about the program
and discuss some of your plans for the future.
Interested in assessing volunteer and
staff relations in your program?
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.