~~ 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.
Charities Can Be Sued. How Is Your
Risk Management Plan?
Virginia has a law saying nonprofits cannot
be sued over routine mistakes by employees or volunteers. The Virginia
Supreme Court has ruled that a nonprofit can be sued when there are serious
errors based on extreme negligence. The ruling came from a lawsuit filed
by the daughter of a Hospice patient who was injured in a residential
facility. The patient was moved resulting in a broken bone, which became
infected, leading to amputation, and subsequent death of the patient.
Lower courts had dismissed the case based on Virginia's law prohibiting
such suits. The Supreme Court disagreed and said, the case could go to
trial, because the law was never intended to protect the nonprofit from
acts of extreme negligence. Many states have similar legislation.
Is it time to check out the risk management
plan for your volunteer program? Here is a checklist to see if you are
headed in the right direction.
Risk Management Checklist
Directions: Read the statements below and put a
check mark by the items you are currently doing to manage risks.
1. ____ There is a risk management committee for
our volunteer program.
2. ____ We have a risk management expert to advise
the committee and director of volunteer services.
3. ____ There is a risk management assessment of
all volunteer positions.
4. ____ Volunteer training includes a section on
the issues of risk management for the clients, patrons, customers
and the organization.
5. ____ There is adequate insurance to cover volunteers,
related to potential risk.
6. ____ There is a risk management plan review done
Interested in more information? Check out our online
bookstore for Better Safe...Risk Management for Volunteer Programs
& Community Service and Yes You Can! Discipline and Dismissal
of Volunteers Audio Workshop, both authored by Linda Graff.
The Aspen Institute nonprofit research
section has released a new report examining how organizations can
successfully retain effective volunteers. The study was done by E.
Gil Clary, Mark Snyder, and Keilah Worth. The study is titled, "The
Volunteer Organization Environment: Key Dimensions and Distinctions."
The authors of the study wanted answers to questions about the match
between volunteers, and the tasks the organization needed done. Researchers
studied the social climate, environment, and "personality"
of 85 nonprofits where volunteers are involved in service delivery.
Here are some findings that impact on the management and supervision
of volunteers. For the full report go to http://www.nonprofitresearch.org.
Organizations should have training programs, handbooks, formal policies
and procedures, and hire coordinators of volunteers to enhance satisfaction
Use performance evaluations with volunteers to monitor progress, leading
to expansion of responsibilities for the volunteer.
Pay attention to the "fit" between the volunteer and the
job they are doing.
Health related organizations provide ample personal development activities
for volunteers, but fewer social opportunities.
Emotions are strong indicators of whether a volunteer will stay with
an organization. Emotions that seem to impact a cross section of organizations
are seated in values, understanding and career motivations.
Meetings bog down, go off track, and
volunteers complain. Here are some tips to deal with specific problems.
Difficult person is ruining meetings
Set a tone. Tell the people attending that you don't expect
everyone to agree, that all viewpoints being heard make for
better decisions. Say what you think, but no criticism of
Address the behavior. Ask the difficult person if what they
are doing, saying, or suggesting is contributing to the topic
of the meeting. "So, Sarah, how is that related to our
solving this problem?"
Ask the person to leave the meeting. A tough and last resort
choice, but sometimes necessary for the health of the project
or plan. End the meeting and talk to the person immediately.
Give them feedback based on behavior. "I noticed in the
meeting how you were sitting and how many 'I' statements you
made. This behavior is negatively impacting the work the group
is able to accomplish. For this reason, I am removing you
from this committee.
Getting off the topic
Get a clarity check. Ask how the conversation is related
to the purpose of the meeting. Move the discussion back onto
the topic, through a review or restating the purpose of the
Create a "parking lot." At every meeting have
a sheet of easel paper on the wall (label it Parking Lot)
and a supply of post-it-notes. When ideas off the topic come
up, but are worthy of discussion, ask the person to write
on the post-it and put it on the easel "parking lot."
And be sure to visit the topic later in the meeting or at
a subsequent meeting.
Summaries. Periodically in the meeting do a summary of what
has been said and what is left to be done. This has the effect
of dealing with minor digressions or when a small group is
engaged in a side topic, not related to the agenda.
The World Futurist Society magazine, The
Futurist, has issued a compilation of trends outlined in its magazine
over the past year. Here are trends that have the capacity to impact aspects
of organizing and managing volunteer programs. Last month's issue of Volunteer
Today carried a similar list but with different topics.
One third of the worlds
population will be online within ten years.
Advertising will be harder to
avoid in the future. Look for ads in restrooms, from cab drivers,
and with people volunteering to promote commercial products.
Homeowners and neighborhoods
will gain more control over energy. New technologies could lead to
better distributed power systems with a move away from centralized
Tree farms might have impact
on saving trees in wilderness areas. Trees can be grown in specialized
orchards, depending on the end use of the productpaper, furniture,
or building materials, to name a few.
Greed may have its demise in
Western culture. More people are disenchanted with owning "things"
and are looking instead for the spiritual and caring sides of life.
The proportion of people expressing such ideas grew from 5% in the
1960's to 26% in the United States in the 21st century. In Australia
23% of adults, aged 30-59 have downsized their lives in the last ten
Older workers might expand the
workday. Older workers are sharpest in the morning hours and might
like to work from 6:30 a.m to 2:30 p.m., allowing younger workers
to come in later in the morning.
Workers will retire lateror
not at all. Strains on pensions and insufficient savings will force
more people to work longer than they had planned. This is also likely
to bring more flexible schedules.
Skills for future workers include
the ability to work on a team, solve complex problems, and communicate
clearly in print and in person.
From "The Futurist" November-December
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