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Visit this page for ideas, suggestions and hints to build volunteer recruitment capacity.

~ October 2006 ~ Topics

Value of Volunteers - Two Ways to Measure
Vacations and the Manager of Volunteers
Are You Hard to Work With?

Value of Volunteers - Two Ways to Measure

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.

Social Benefits

  • 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.

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Vacations and the Manager of Volunteers

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!

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Are You Hard to Work With?

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.

  1. I believe that teamwork requires working well with many different types of people.
    Yes No
  2. I count to 10 before reacting when I am irritated by someone else.
    Yes No
  3. I give other people space when it is their turn for a "bad day."
    Yes No
  4. I monitor my behavior when I am having a "bad day."
    Yes No
  5. I avoid burdening others with the challenges in my life.
    Yes No
  6. I do things to control my stress—diet, exercise, meditation, spiritual study.
    Yes No
  7. I greet people by name.
    Yes No
  8. I try to smile and be pleasant.
    Yes No
  9. Working well with others is one of my personal goals.
    Yes No

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 in check.

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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.

Details for Episodic Volunteering Book Details for One Miinue Answer Book


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.

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