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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

~ July 2006 ~

Leadership Questions from Members
Episodic Volunteers
Volunteer Application Tip

Dear Connie:

I am running for President of a non-profit organization that I have served for the past 12 years. I am very familiar with the organization history and mission and have served in other elected positions before. However, this is going to be the first time in the history of the organization that the President position will be challenged. I am preparing for a forum in September. What type of questions can I expect from the membership? I have never participated in an open forum before. I certainly would appreciate hearing from you.


Dear VA:

Without knowing any specifics about your organization, here are the questions I would ask you as a member:

  1. What is your vision for the organization for the next 3-5 years?
  2. What services/benefits do you consider most valuable for members and/or the community?
  3. Why do you believe that you are the best candidate for President?
  4. What are your thoughts on the best governance practices for the board of directors?
  5. How will you strengthen our financial resources (fundraising)?
  6. How will you strengthen our utilization of volunteer resources?

If there are specific challenges your organization is facing, naturally you can expect questions about those as well.

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Dear Connie:

I belong to an all-volunteer organization whose membership is shifting from stay-at-home mothers who can work during the day to full-time working women who can volunteer only on weekends and in the evenings. Are there any books that can guide us on how best to manage this evolving volunteer workforce?


Dear Beth:

Our society has changed dramatically from the time when people (mostly women) could volunteer on a full-time basis on weekdays. Volunteer program managers have responded to this change by "retooling" their volunteer tasks to accommodate these "episodic" volunteers.

Nancy Macduff has written an excellent book on utilizing episodic volunteers, "Episodic Volunteering: Organizing and Managing the Short-Term Volunteer Program." It's available for sale ($30) on the Volunteer Today website bookstore. This book covers the basics of integrating short-term volunteer opportunities and people into the existing program. It begins by placing the episodic volunteer position in the context of the larger program and moves on to assessing the need, writing position descriptions, all the way to reward and recognition. The book is filled with charts, self-assessment tools, and forms suitable for copying.

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Dear Connie:

I am updating my volunteer application. Are there any new questions I should add?


Dear A.R.:

One of my clients recently updated its volunteer application and added a section that I really like called "Previous Experience." We usually ask for any previous employment or volunteer experience, but they expanded this section by adding the following:

  • Service as a volunteer, mentor, or coach
  • Hobbies that relate to our mission
  • Drama or other public speaking or performance experience
  • Foreign language(s)
  • Experience with special needs groups

Each of the above categories provides space to give a brief description, name of organization, years of service or participation, etc. You could add categories that relate specifically to your organization and "mine" more information about potential volunteers.

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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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