The September issue of Volunteer Today
featured an article titled, "$ Value for Volunteers." The
article outlined the three most common methods used to place a dollar
value on the service of volunteers. Here are two other methods that
are less $ oriented, but nonetheless a valuable measure of volunteer
contributions to an organization.
Value to Volunteer
This method turns the conventional wisdom on its head and measures
the benefit the volunteer receives in exchange for their time and effort.
The obvious example of this is the intern, who spends time in an organization,
receives school credits, and invaluable work and life experience. But
there are some subtle values that organizations often over look.
A recent study of parents who volunteer in their children's school
showed that the children did 10% better in school than the children
of non-volunteer parents.
In order to use this measuring stick, the organization or program
needs to be able to quantify how the volunteering affects the individual
life. Not an easy task. One method some programs use is to collect anecdotal
evidence from volunteers about the personal gains made from their experiences.
Society benefits in direct and indirect ways from the activities
of volunteers. Direct benefits are usually determined by finding a comparable
service for which people pay a fee. The direct service of the volunteer
is the price someone would pay to have the service provided. Tutoring
is a good example of this. What might a nonprofit organization charge
to tutor children? This is a cost that parents would bear, were it not
for the volunteers.
Indirect benefits are harder to quantify. For example, a local organization
works to clean and maintain a hiking trail in a nearby National Park.
Direct benefits would be easy to calculate. Indirect benefits are such
things as beautification of an area, maybe cleaner water, or a more
hospitable environment for wildlife, or improved community relations
with nearby home or farm owners. Those are indirect benefits, not just
picking up soda cans. Again, the best way to gather such data is from
the volunteers or those impacted by that work of the volunteers.
Anecdotal information should be included in year-end reports on the
volunteer program, in addition to the ones involving money.
Are you planning a vacation? Time to paint the house or visit SeaWorld?
Worried about the volunteers staying on task without you? Here are some
tips so you can leave the office with your mind at ease.
Consider ways to stay in touch.
Sometimes it is too stressful to leave a job totally. Develop techniques
to stay in touch, but rest and relax, too. Take an "at home vacation."
Take four days off, then check in for one, four more days off, then
check in for one.
Appoint a stand-in. Select or designate
a person to manage projects and daily responsibilities, including such
things as picking up your email! This could be a very experienced volunteer
who is trained by you for several weeks prior to the vacation. The person
would have your contact information in the event of a real emergency.
Spend some time defining what "emergency" really means. If
your supervisor is uncomfortable with a volunteer carrying out these
duties then request assistance from a staff member who is friendly to
the volunteer program and can cover your duties. Again, negotiate time
to train the person.
Set check-in times. Arrange with
a "stand-in" to call into the office to check on progress
of projects, answer questions, and reassure yourself all is well. This
may be more for you than for the volunteers or paid staff, but if you
suffer separation anxiety, this is an easy do!
Few people would voluntarily state that they are difficult
to work with, so why is the US comic strip "Dilbert" so popular
in offices across the country and who is watching the US television show
"The Office?" The latter being based on a British television
series about a bumbling boss. Here is a quiz that requires painful honest
and might help you answer the question about being difficult to work with.
Scoring - Total the number of "Yes" marks
and the number of "No" marks. 8-9 "Yes" marks means
folks enjoy working with you; 7-5 is o.k., but you might be perceived
as being unpredictable. Below 5, means you need to work at keeping emotions
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.