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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 2006 ~

Dear Readers:

The New Year is the perfect opportunity to think about what you’d like to do differently in your work and with your volunteer program. Recently, subscribers to the "volunteer issues" listserv on http://www.CharityChannel.com shared some of their resolutions for the New Year. Take a look and see if yours are here and what you would add.

My best wishes to each of you for a happy and healthy New Year!


I resolve to be a kinder, more loving human being; to be less selfish and more giving; to think before I speak, and to walk my dogs regardless of the weather. I resolve to eat less, work more, and find time to help others.
I resolve to treat volunteers with the same respect, courtesy and professionalism as I do paid employees.
I resolve to treat all volunteers as I do volunteer board members.
I resolve to find more ways to utilize volunteers than just doing the crappy "stuff envelopes and serve meals" kinds of tasks.
I resolve to actively and specifically recruit retired former professionals as volunteers and give them the type of meaningful work that puts to social use the years of experience and expertise they have – some just don't want to be board members.
I resolve to be more proactive in giving an organization's clients an opportunity to volunteer.
I resolve to spend as much time, effort and money recognizing volunteers as we do donors – after all, volunteer service represents service for which we would otherwise have to pay.
I resolve to stop recognizing individual volunteers just by their hours served – calculate a dollar value for their service. In our society, money is more valued than time and making clear how much $ someone saved the organization may bring a new respect (and self-respect) to volunteerism.
I resolve to create better and more volunteer opportunities within the organization for kids under 25.
I resolve to invite volunteers to ALL donor recognition/thanks events.
I resolve to stop stressing over details and breathe more. In the great Buddhist tradition of meditation, I think we can all benefit from not expending so much energy on details, reminding ourselves the impermanence of all things, and staying focused on the big things that really matter. I will breathe more and stress less.
I resolve to spend more time listening and looking for the truth within others. I spend so much time being in a hurry that I seldom hear what people are really saying. Additionally, when others get defensive, I return the defensive energy and continue on a "schedule." I will focus my energies on making time to listen, making time to really find the truth within others and to use those moments to better express myself.
I resolve to make time for me. As the poem says "slow me down Lord, I'm going too fast....I can't see my brother when he's going past." I am sure all of us who work in the nonprofit world are test subjects for NASA, achieving speeds of travel that would make long distance space travel possible. We work endless hours, probably creating more hours in a week than what are really there!
I resolve to become a better leader in 2006.
I resolve to recognize that many perspectives are needed and resolve not to lead alone.
I resolve to patiently and courageously insist on peoples' participation as the means to discover their potential and contribute to the organization.
I resolve to recognize human diversity as a gift, and the human spirit as a blessing of hope and possibility even in the worst circumstances.
I resolve to bring new voices into the room at every opportunity to expand our understanding of challenges and their solutions.
I resolve to build reflection and learning into all activities.
I resolve to offer purposeful work as the necessary condition for people to engage fully.

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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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