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

~ December 2006 ~ Topics

Quick Stress Reducers
Improve the Position Description
Quick Tips on Recruiting and Retention

Quick Stress Reducers

A good sense of humor helps in reducing stress according to the experts. Here are some tips on reducing stress in the workplace.

  • Laugh. Not giggles or tee-hees, but out and out laughter, at least 10 times a day. The best type of laughing is when you can laugh at yourself.
  • Balance. Life is about up, down, and middle. Each day has high points and low points. Remember that your day and your life are on a continuum. Balanced thinking helps you keep perspective in dealing with the day-to-day challenges. Try to keep mentally in the middle, while acknowledging the fact that good and bad will come and go.
  • Stretch. Deep breathing and stretching exercises are good for our body, but also our emotions. Sitting for long stretches stifles our natural energies. Get up periodically, move around, breath deeply, and stretch those muscles. It helps reduce tension.
  • List. Make a list of things you like to do, from the extravagant to the simple. Make sure you do one thing on that list each day.
  • Give. Next time you are in a coffee shop, buy the person behind you their drink. Pay for the toll of the person in the car behind you. An unasked for generosity is not just nice for the recipient, but for the giver, too.
  • Fun. Volunteers like fun. They signed on for fun. Problems, clients, patrons may be serious, but enjoy yourself. The cause may be serious, but laughter can help everyone's stress level stay low.
  • Mistakes. Make a point of noting at least one mistake in each day. Striving to be perfect is a sure fire plan to increase your stress. And once you fix the mistake have a good laugh on yourself.

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Improve the Position Description

Traditional volunteers ask questions about the expectation of the organization for whom he/she is volunteering. The volunteer position description (sometimes called a job description) is a good way to communicate organizational expectations. Here is a checklist to ensure that the position description is communicating what your organization wants to say and what the volunteer needs to see.

Element Item Yes No
Administrative Information 1. Job title    
2. Short description    
3. Geographic location    
4. Department    
5. Purpose of position (brief)    
Supervision 1. Immediate supervisor title    
2. Anyone reporting to volunteer    
Purpose 1. Brief statement of how position fits into organizational goals    
Duties 1. Main tasks    
2. Six to 10 points that state duties and results expected    
Skills Needed 1. Education required    
2. Skills required    
3. Experience desirable    
4. Minimum requirements    
5. Training required    
6. Helpful skills, but not required    
Benefits 1. Benefits to volunteers    
2. Benefits to mission of organization    

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Quick Tips on Recruiting and Retention

The best way to learn about the seriousness of a volunteer's interest in the organization is to begin an interview with this question. "Tell me what you know about our organization? And what questions do you have for me?"

A quick way to quash conflict between volunteers is to ask if either of them has a solution that they and you can live with. People are more likely to support a solution if he/she comes up with it.

Clutter over whelming you? Before you log in to email on your computer, deal with three items on your desk. Imagine where you would be if you do this for two weeks.

Volunteers are good sources of resource development. If money is the issue, get top volunteers (no more than 10) in a room. On easel paper write "Make Money." On another easel write "Save Money." Then have a freewheeling brainstorming session. Avoid discussion of details. The purpose of the session is to generate ideas.

Too many meetings? Cancel all meetings for 30 days. Then ask staff and volunteers which meetings they regret not attending and why. Draw up a new schedule for meetings based on the input you receive.

Retention on your mind. Keeping volunteers is often impacted by what happens to them in the first days of their involvement. A. Get them actively engaged at training - Ask what they hope to accomplish and what they have to contribute. B. Take the volunteer on a tour of the facility and program. Let them see where they fit in the big picture. Do not just rush them off to their assignment. C. Match them to a mentor who will stick with them on a regular basis for many months.

Find out what businesses are supporters of your organization. Check to see if they have a Web site. Ask if the company would consider a free advertisement on their site directing people to volunteer opportunities with your program. Then provide hot-link information and snappy design for them to up-load very simply.

Ask volunteers to complete this sentence. "The one thing that makes coming to this volunteer position worthwhile is __________________________."

Get more efficient in managing your own work. 10 minutes per day to improve productivity. Up date your calendar. Clean out old email messages. Schedule an appointment.

Interested in more information? Check out our online bookstore for: Episodic Volunteering: Organizing and Managing the Short-Term Volunteer Program, (now available in downloadable PDF format) by Nancy Macduff and The One Minute Answer to Volunteer Management Questions, by Mary Kay Hood.

Details for Episodic Volunteering Book Details for One Miinue Answer Book


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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