The new forms of volunteering (See Volunteer
Today May and June
issues) are requiring different skills in finding volunteers and then
outlining expectations. Traditional volunteers work from the position
description and carry out work based on what they are told to do.
The Entrepreneur, Vigilante, or Occasional
volunteer rarely work from a "script" designed by someone else.
So the manager of volunteers is put in the position of negotiating a "deal"
with the volunteer about what they will do and what they cannot do. Here
are some tips on making good deals.
Start with honesty. Never promise more than is possible.
Be clear about expectations, limits, rules, or legal issues.
Know the background. Visit with the person. Check the
references and ask penetrating questions of the references. Do not hesitate
to talk with managers of volunteers where the person has given service
in the past. Know as much as possible about the background of the individual.
Be open to inventiveness. The non-Traditional volunteer
is likely to come to the organization with ideas about how to do things
that might seem strange at first blush. Get them to do pro/con lists,
talk through their ideas. Relate everything to mission. What is your
organization's mission and how will their efforts further the mission.
Avoid saying no, or we tried that before and it did not work. Even if
that is true. Times change and what was not possible 15 years ago is
Keep leaders informed. Volunteers doing new and inventive
things can scare the leaders of organizations. Keep the leaders well
informed and have a "process" to recruit and evaluate the
non-Traditional volunteer and get them working for the good of the organization.
This helps sell the notion of new ways for people to volunteers. The
manager of volunteers grows more comfortable with the "deal"
making activities, and as non-Traditional volunteers are successful
it will build confidence in leaders of the organization. Keeping everyone
informed is key to this part of good deals.
Watch for deal breakers. It is easy to think you and
a volunteer have an agreement about the service he/she plans to give.
Miscommunication can derail that assumption. One way to do this is with
a valuation process. Decide on what is valuable for both partiesthe
volunteer and the organization. That value is what drives all decisions
and plans. It helps with focus, too! And it helps to write things down,
if only in a summary email.
Recommendations abound for using the Web
and/or Internet to communicate with, recruit, or train volunteers. Good
advice, depending on whom you are trying to recruit. Look at this list
of online activities by age and apply the information to the things you
are doing for volunteers.
1. Play on line games.
2. Send or receive instant messaging.
3. Get information about colleges.
4. Send or receive email.
5. Get news about current events.
6. Look for news or information about
7. Look for religious or spiritual
8. Buy things such as books, clothing,
9. Look for health or fitness information.
10. Look for information about a job.
Source: The Pew Internet and American
Life Project 2005
Interested in more information? Check out our online
bookstore for: Episodic Volunteering: Organizing and Managing the
Short-Term Volunteer Program, by Nancy Macduff and The One Minute
Answer to Volunteer Management Questions, by Mary Kay Hood.
Interested in assessing volunteer and
staff relations in your program?
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.