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.
Most effective volunteer programs have newsletters,
electronic or paper, or on web sites. These documents are intended to
build communication with volunteers and provide information. The best
newsletters are read because they contain appealing information. They
are more than calendars and "have-to's." Here are some tips
to "jazz" up the newsletter.
Put in some "how-to" articles. If you run an outdoor-type
of program, write something about gardening tips, pruning, the best
lawn care ideas. If you run a hospital volunteer program, offer health
tips that are practical, how to meet and people. etc.
David Letterman has made a career of his "top ten" items.
Everyone loves lists. They are also attention grabbers. Five tips for
making friends. Ten Ways to Be healthier in 30 days. The topics chosen
depend on what the volunteers do and the type of organization they work
Interviews. Do a standard interview each month of someone important
to volunteers or the organization. It can be a client, customer or patron,
a volunteer, or staff member. It might also be a funder. And ask "fun'
questions, as well as those serious topics. Make the questions consistent
from month to month.
Interested in more information?
Check out our online
bookstore for Handling Problem Volunteers and Best Practices
for Volunteer Programs, both authored by Steve McCurley and Sue Vineyard.
Communication is enhanced when
there is mutual trust between people. Getting to know volunteers
at a personal level moves them from being "their job"
to being a complicated person with a life outside the organization.
Seeing others as having common needs and experiences enhances the
The best relationships are
personal and face-to-face and not by email. Volunteer managers should
bargain to work non-standard hours. Visit with volunteers working
weekends, or nights, or early mornings. In face-to-face contacts
you can read body language and make connections that last.
You thought you were clear
and find out much later there was a misunderstanding. Be sure your
message is received. Use active listening skills. Then ask someone
to tell you what they understand has been said. Example. "We
have been talking for a while, I wonder Eleanor if you can remind
me of all we have agreed to." Avoid yes and no questions. ("Do
you have any questions?"). No one wants to admit they did not
receive the message.
Match words to body language.
If words and body language are opposites, people believe the body
language. Consistency between words and tone of voice create trust
and a higher level of effective communication.
One responsibility of the effective manager
of volunteers is to gaze into the future and begin the managerial process
to prepare the program for the road ahead. With assistance from "The
Futurist," a publication of the World Futurist Society, Volunteer
Today checks out the crystal ball and highlights coming events, changes,
or issues that are likely to impact nonprofit organizations, volunteerism,
and the management of both.
The economy around the world appears to be moving onto a steady course.
In the US, new jobs are springing up and growth is expected to stabilize
around 4%. Political shifts in Europe are making for a more mobile work
force. Some countries of the old Eastern European bloc are stabilizing
their economies, making them likely customers for goods and services
from Western European countries.
The growth in population in the world will slide below 1% by 2016.
The population in developed countries is living longer. This puts wealth
and power into the hands of the old and increases the market for services
to older age groups.
The rapid advance of technology, even in developing countries, will
lead to new career paths, industries, and jobs.
Migration is redistributing the world's population. This promises to
put strains on the social service network in developed countries of
Europe and North America.
The shrinking globe Internet, travel, and communication - are
facilitating cross-cultural exchange and helping break the barriers
The increase in migration will fall heavily on employers. However, libraries
and schools can be expected to be asked to make room for new languages
Generation X and Millennials in China and India are driving the expansion
of the economy in those countries. The younger, entrepreneurial generation
expects government to create reforms to make growing new business easy.
Family structures continue to grow in diverse forms. Arguments over
the "decline" of the family will continue to polarize people,
especially in the US.
Oil prices continue to highlight the developing world's dependence on
a single form of energy production. There does not seem to be the political
will to fund or study alternative energy sources.
Air and water pollution are on the minds of citizens, especially in
developed countries. These concerns will create backlashes with entrenched
traditional interests and businesses.
The glut of garbage is going to drive increasing laws for recycling
and waste to energy projects.
Industrial development is winning out over environmental concerns in
much of the world.
Continuing moves to cities and metroplex areas will aggregate social
and environmental problems.
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