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
Send questions to AskConnieP@cs.com
Do you know where I might find examples of "code of ethics," or
something similar, for volunteers? Thanks!
Webster's defines ethics as "the discipline dealing with what is
good and bad and with moral duty and obligation; a set of moral principles
or values; a theory or system of moral values; the principles of conduct
governing an individual or a group." A code of ethics for a volunteer
program is a set of broad-based principles that allow for diversity while
also establishing clear and acceptable guidelines of -conduct that is
agreed upon by the majority of those affected by the standards. These
agreed upon standards then provide a means of measuring our behavior as
it applies to our duty to be accountable. Once you have defined the values
that are core to your volunteer program, you can put in writing the standards
of conduct (code of ethics) that are based on the core values.
Having said all that, here are a few examples of "generic"
standards of conduct:
We provide training that adequately prepares volunteers to support
Our staff and volunteers value human dignity in our relationships
with each other.
We involve staff and volunteers in program decisions that affect them.
We respect the privacy and confidentiality of volunteers and staff.
We work at enhancing the relationships of volunteer/staff teams.
My question involves accountability. How do you keep volunteers accountable,
act respectable, come on time, and give the true time commitment we all
seem to be searching for? I hope you have some lifesaving advice.
Accountability in a volunteer program usually starts with stated expectations,
which are often part of the volunteer handbook/manual, orientation, and
training. In the absence of written program standards of conduct, it's
left to the individual volunteer to interpret what are reasonable and
acceptable standards of behavior. While this allows lots of latitude and
flexibility for volunteers and staff alike, it may also create an environment
for behavior that isn't acceptable.
Your question tells me that some or all of your program
volunteers aren't "acting" as you want and need for them to
act. If this behavior is program-wide, I suggest that you create an ad
hoc group of volunteers to help you identify and document the behavior
that is acceptable. By involving them in the process they will be your
best advocates for the new standards of conduct.
I've listed a few examples below so that you get the
idea. Expectations are sometimes more easily accepted than "rules"
Volunteers can expect:
To be trained for the tasks they will do;
To understand how their work fits into the organization;
To be thanked for their efforts; and
For their staff partners to be courteous, kind, and thoughtful.
Staff members can expect:
For volunteers to show up on time for assignments;
For volunteers to be respectful of the demands on staff time;
To be thanked for their efforts; and
For their volunteer partners to be courteous, kind, and thoughtful.
I have been employed as the Volunteer Coordinator for a family hospice
for about four months. I am planning a volunteer appreciation banquet.
I was wondering if you could recommend how to organize one. I was also
wondering if you could recommend guest speakers or what type of speaker
I should look for.
C. in Texas
First, welcome to the wonderful world of volunteer program managers! First,
be sure to join the Association for
Volunteer Administration (AVA) so that you connect to the bigger world
of volunteer administration. And, don't forget to sign up for their free
There are three important elements in a volunteer appreciation
banquet: Food, Folks, and Fun! Most banquets follow a standard format:
A served or buffet meal
Participants seated at round tables so they can visit with each other
Brief welcome remarks to get the event going
The program after dessert usually involves a speaker and presentations
The main purpose of the event is to recognize your program
volunteers for their time and efforts supporting your hospice organization.
One way to accomplish this is to have an inspirational speaker
perhaps the executive director or board chairman of your organization
who will put into perspective how the volunteers helped the organization
to accomplish its mission. Or, perhaps there's a local official who's
a good speaker the mayor, city manager, police/fire chief, etc.
Some organizations give certificates or small gifts to volunteers for
special "above and beyond" accomplishments. They also incorporate
drawings for prizes to liven up their events.
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: