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
Do you know where I might find examples of "code of ethics," or
something similar, for volunteers? Thanks!
Webster's defines ethics as "the discipline dealing with what is
good and bad and with moral duty and obligation; a set of moral principles
or values; a theory or system of moral values; the principles of conduct
governing an individual or a group." A code of ethics for a volunteer
program is a set of broad-based principles that allow for diversity while
also establishing clear and acceptable guidelines of -conduct that is
agreed upon by the majority of those affected by the standards. These
agreed upon standards then provide a means of measuring our behavior as
it applies to our duty to be accountable. Once you have defined the values
that are core to your volunteer program, you can put in writing the standards
of conduct (code of ethics) that are based on the core values.
Having said all that, here are a few examples of "generic"
standards of conduct:
We provide training that adequately prepares
volunteers to support our mission.
Our staff and volunteers value human dignity
in our relationships with each other.
We involve staff and volunteers in program decisions
that affect them.
We respect the privacy and confidentiality of
volunteers and staff.
We work at enhancing the relationships of volunteer/staff
My question involves accountability. How do you keep volunteers accountable,
act respectable, come on time, and give the true time commitment we all
seem to be searching for? I hope you have some lifesaving advice.
Accountability in a volunteer program usually starts with stated expectations,
which are often part of the volunteer handbook/manual, orientation, and
training. In the absence of written program standards of conduct, it's
left to the individual volunteer to interpret what are reasonable and
acceptable standards of behavior. While this allows lots of latitude and
flexibility for volunteers and staff alike, it may also create an environment
for behavior that isn't acceptable.
Your question tells me that some or all of your program volunteers aren't
"acting" as you want and need for them to act. If this behavior
is program-wide, I suggest that you create an ad hoc group of volunteers
to help you identify and document the behavior that is acceptable. By
involving them in the process they will be your best advocates for the
new standards of conduct.
I've listed a few examples below so that you get the idea. Expectations
are sometimes more easily accepted than "rules" or "guidelines."
Volunteers can expect:
To be trained for the tasks they will do;
To understand how their work fits into the organization;
To be thanked for their efforts; and
For their staff partners to be courteous, kind, and thoughtful.
Staff members can expect:
For volunteers to show up on time for assignments;
For volunteers to be respectful of the demands on staff time;
To be thanked for their efforts; and
For their volunteer partners to be courteous, kind, and thoughtful.
I have been employed as the Volunteer Coordinator for a family hospice for
about four months. I am planning a volunteer appreciation banquet. I was
wondering if you could recommend how to organize one. I was also wondering
if you could recommend guest speakers or what type of speaker I should look
C. in Texas
I believe there are three important elements in a volunteer appreciation
banquet: Food, Folks, and Fun! Most banquets follow a standard format:
A served or buffet meal
Participants seated at round tables so they can visit with each other
Brief welcome remarks to get the event going
The program after dessert usually involves a speaker and presentations
The main purpose of the event is to recognize your program
volunteers for their time and efforts supporting your hospice organization.
One way to accomplish this is to have an inspirational speaker
perhaps the executive director or board chairman of your organization
who will put into perspective how the volunteers help the organization
to accomplish its mission. Or, perhaps there's a local official who's
a good speaker the mayor, city manager, police/fire chief, etc.
Some organizations give certificates or small gifts to volunteers for
special "above and beyond" accomplishments. They also incorporate
drawings for prizes to liven up their events.
Interested in assessing volunteer and
staff relations in your program?
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
Strategic Nonprofit Resources
10103 Edward Avenue * Bethesda, MD 20814 * VOICE: 301-530-8233 * FAX: