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VT readers ask questions about volunteer management and administration. Ask Connie, an experienced volunteer manager, consultant and trainer, provides the answers for all to see.
Send questions to AskConnieP@cs.com

~ January 2005 ~ Topics

Dear Connie:

Can you tell me what is the theme for the 2005 National Volunteer Week?



Dear Julia:

The 2005 theme is "Inspire by Example." If you're interested in promotional materials to use that week, visit Points of Light Foundation.

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Dear Connie:

I am currently taking a class in volunteering at Wayne State University. I tried to surf the Internet on volunteer record keeping. Why it is important, what is the advantage and disadvantage in record keeping? How much information do you need to record? However, I am unsuccessful in obtaining this information. Will you please provide me with a web site that has information on record keeping? Thank you very much!



Dear P:

Keeping records on volunteers is very important to the success of any volunteer program. First, there are records on individual volunteers that include their contact information, emergency contact, etc. Next, most volunteer program managers keep a demographic profile of volunteers that includes their skills, interests, and availability to volunteer (day of the week, time, etc.). Most program managers also keep track of the hours that volunteers work. This is important to document the "value added" that volunteers bring to an institution as well as for any award system a manager may use to recognize volunteers who work extraordinary hours.

There are many articles on record keeping on the Volunteer Today site. Just click on "Archives Search" and type in "record keeping." Among the articles, you'll find one on "Keeping Your Records Safe and Sound."

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Dear Connie:

I have been asked to speak on "What is a Volunteer?" at a meeting of a festival association. What I would like to do is lead them into being able to make volunteers return by having them think on what you need to do to make that volunteer happy. I would like some information on how not to treat a volunteer, like not talking behind each other's back. Also, if a volunteer makes a mistake, how he should be corrected.



Dear Emily:

Retaining volunteers is an art and a science. You may want to include in your speech one of my favorite lists of how to retain volunteers.

To retain volunteers they need:

    • To know they are needed – a sense of belonging.
    • To have people listen to their ideas – a sense of sharing in the objectives.
    • To have real purpose so they know their contributions are valuable.
    • To help make the rules they will follow.
    • To know what is expected of them – if you keep them in the dark they will not stay there.
    • To have challenging responsibilities that are within their capabilities.
    • To be kept informed – what they aren't "kept up" on they may "be down" on.
    • To trust their leaders – they will trust those who are consistently fair and competent.
    • Feedback – responding to their ideas lets them know they are being heard.

You may also want to include some ideas from this list on what volunteers can do if you let them:

    • They can share your vision and take it to the community.
    • They can re-energize you.
    • They can give you room to dream and grow.
    • They can manage other volunteers.
    • They can give supervision experience to staff members.
    • They can get you contacts in the community.
    • They can support the organization through their donations.
    • They can do work you don't want to do.
    • They can laugh with you.
    • They can provide you with feedback from the community.
    • They can get you more volunteers.

There is an excellent article on "Why Volunteers?" at Mary Merrill's site. It contains some good ideas that you may want to include in your presentation too.


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Do you have a question? Now you too can ask an expert!

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.
Connie Pirtle
Strategic Nonprofit Resources
10103 Edward Avenue * Bethesda, MD 20814 * VOICE: 301-530-8233 * FAX: 301-530-8299

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