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ASK CONNIE

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

~ May 2006 ~

Active vs. Inactive Volunteers – A Definition
Uniforms and Increased Volunteer Performance
Funding Sources for Intern Program


Dear Connie:

Do you know if there is a definition of "active volunteer"? What factors would determine active vs. inactive, e.g., hours given, length of time inactive, etc. Thank you!

Meredith

Dear Meredith:

Every organization seems set have their own definition of what constitutes an "active" volunteer. One of my clients, for instance, considers a volunteer active if he/she works at one event a year. Another one considers "active" as working 20 hours/year. Yet another one uses the criteria of "one shift" per month. So you see, it just depends.

I recommend that the definition not be too limiting so that the organization has the largest pool of volunteers possible. I realize that it can be costly to stay connected (e.g., send newsletters and other communications) to all volunteers, but I think it's important that people have the opportunity to give you as much or as little time as they can.


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Dear Connie:

I am writing up a "mini-grant" for uniforms for my new Summer Youth Program in a hospital. Do you have any data regarding uniforms and increased volunteer performance?

M.B.

Dear M.B.:

I'm sorry I don't know of any research that would help you. But what occurs to me is that volunteer uniforms can:

validate (and make official) the important role volunteers play in your hospital;
help staff and patients identify volunteers;
bring color into the work of volunteers; and
show volunteers that the hospital values their contributions.

All of the above help increase volunteers' sense of worth and undoubtedly will increase their performance.


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Dear Connie:

What are some ways to seek funding if we want to use graduate students as interns?

Pat

Dear Pat:

These are some funding sources that are often used for intern programs of all types:

  • local community foundations
  • corporations that already support your organization (so that you don't have to cultivate a new relationship for this one-time type contribution)
  • individual board members who have an interest in utilizing university students to provide an "infusion" of creativity for the organization and offer a rich experience for the students.

You might also talk to someone in the financial aid office at the university to find out if they have a list of potential underwriters for your intern program. They are often very helpful in connecting "prospective employers" with "income sources" so that the students find appropriate internships.



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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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