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Visit this page for ideas, suggestions and hints to build volunteer recruitment capacity.

~ January 2005 ~ Topics

Assessing Staff Attitudes

Numerous studies of longevity in volunteer service illustrate the importance of the relationship between staff and volunteers. When staff are welcoming and clear in their direction to volunteers, the climate is enhanced in a positive manner. One responsibility of the manager of volunteers is to keep the "good vibes" going. Talking to volunteers is important, but it is also important to know where the staff stands. Regular surveys of staff can provide indicators that training is needed for either the volunteers or the paid staff. Here are some questions to ask of paid staff with volunteer supervision responsibilities. These questions, in an anonymous survey, might help identify the strengths staff see in working with volunteers and the places that present challenges.

    1. What do you like the best about supervising volunteers?
    2. What do you like the least about supervising volunteers?
    3. What skills do you have that help you in supervising volunteers?
    4. What skills would you like to improve to enhance the supervision of volunteers?
    5. What can the organization do to enhance the involvement of volunteers?
    6. How can the office of volunteers help in supervision of volunteers?

Interested in more information? Check out our online bookstore for: Best Practices for Volunteer Programs, by Sue Vineyard and Steve McCurley and Secrets of Leadership, by Rick Lynch and Sue Vineyard.

Details for Best Practices Book Recruiting & Retention Book Image

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Keys to Effective Screening

Screening includes applications, interviews, background checks and more. Nothing in that "paper trail" system is perfect, but there are some things to keep in mind.

Review the volunteer history. Have they done something in the recent past that relates to what they will be doing for you? Did they appear to move up in the previous organization, as far a volunteer responsibility is concerned?
Review the work history. What did they do in the workplace or as someone who worked in the home. Focus less on degrees and titles and more on skills. If record keeping is part of the volunteer position, ask questions that require them to give examples of how record keeping was part of work life.
Define position requirements. Know the key criteria for success with the position. List the skills before talking to a prospective volunteer about the position. Never gloss over requirements like long hours on your feet, tedious record keeping, and working with people who might smell bad. It is not fair to the prospective volunteer or to the people to be served.
Clarify what you are seeking. Tell the volunteer the characteristics of people who are successful and love the position. Then let them tell you how they see themselves fitting into the position.

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Courtesy Makes a Come Back

Courtesy is not a set of rules about knives and forks or debutante balls, but rather the civility, care, and consideration we take with other people. There seems to be an increasing interest in promoting courtesy in the work place. Saying "thank you" to colleagues and volunteers, at least once a day is a good idea. Here are a couple more ideas to enhance the civility in your work place.

    • Make a call when you are running late. If you are running late (and who isn't??), take the time to call and tell people the estimated time of arrival. This applies to more than meetings. A report that will be a day late, forms that need to be completed and are not done, and anything else that will be late is worthy of warning others who are involved. Everyone has deadlines, and can understand that life doesn't always give us what we want in the way of time. So warn people on a regular basis about things that will be late.
    • Praise. Repeated studies over the last two decades show that employees think the thing their supervisor does least well is to praise their work. So, why not praise your colleagues? And do not forget the volunteers.
    • Avoid critical statements. Many times people ask our opinion on a personal matter, hair cut, new suit, new car, and the like. Think positive. Say the man in the next office or cubicle has a new car you think is a "heap." Keep that to yourself. Find something you do like about it and share that. "Gosh, what a great shade of red." Honesty is not always the best policy, being kind and honest is much better.


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.

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