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

~ January 2007 ~ Topics

Control the Talker
Recruiting for a Board
Giving Makes You Feel Good

Control the Talker

Every volunteer program has a person who talks incessantly. The chatting can keep others from their work, annoy paid staff, and drive clients crazy. Here are some tips for controlling the "over-talker."

Keep still. Any movement or sound from you can encourage the person to keep talking. This includes such things as head nods, "hmmm," or "uh-huh." Absolutely silence and non-response makes the talker feel self-conscious and he/she usually quit talking.

Speak slowly. Most chatterboxes are fast talkers. You establish a contrast by speaking at a very slow tempo. This frequently calls attention to how the person is monopolizing the conversation. It is possible the individual will sputter to an end.

No paraphrasing. Communication classes teach the value of restating what another person has said, ignore that advice when trying to control the over talker. If you restate what the "chatterbox" has just said, he/she is likely to say yes, and repeat himself. It is better to say, "I understand" when the person is done.

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Recruiting for a Board

220 people serving on the boards of various nonprofit organizations participated in a study to analyze the different types of things that motivate them to serve. The study included 58 agencies in a metropolitan area of the US. Agencies represented included those working in advocacy, the environment, culture, health, social services, and sports. 540 surveys were distributed with 220 responses. The sample was 44% male; 55% female, 75% were over forty, with 35% between forty-one and fifty. 90% reported some level of post-secondary education, with 38% with advanced degrees or certification. 63% worked either part or full time.

The results of the study provided much statistical analysis, but a key finding was the varied motivations or reasons people volunteer for the board on which they serve. The following is the mean score based on a five-point scale.

Motivation/Reason for Serving Mean STD Deviation
Opportunity to work toward a good cause 4.44 0.80
Opportunity to respond to community needs 4.42 0.83
Opportunity to make a difference in life of my community 4.25 0.89
Opportunity to gain new perspectives on community issues 3.97 1.05
Opportunity to help solve community problems 3.85 0.99
Opportunity to work with others 3.79 0.97
Opportunity to bring my skills and expertise to the board 3.74 0.97
The different perspectives and experience I bring to the board 3.68 0.98
It makes me feel good 3.56 1.20
Opportunity to develop my own strengths 3.53 1.11
Opportunity to learn more about community services and programs 3.52 1.09
Opportunity to learn new skills 3.46 1.19
Advocate on behalf of groups and individuals 3.38 1.31
Opportunity to complete a task successfully 3.35 1.20
Challenge of working with community agency in current economic conditions 3.25 1.17
Opportunity to meet new people 3.21 1.15
Value of professional relationships that develop 3.04 1.09

Fourteen items were in the moderate range of 3.00- 4.00, with only three items ranked highly. The lowest ranked motivators are listed next.

Motivation/Reason for Serving Mean STD Deviation
Attention I receive through my board position 1.63 0.84
To reduce some of the guilt over being more fortunate than others 1.52 0.74
To escape my own troubles 1.48 0.86
Opportunity to deal with my own problems 1.34 0.70
To feel less lonely 1.33 0.72

When recruiting members to a board it is useful to know the motivational elements that encourage service. This list, based on scholarly research can help in crafting a method to ask people to serve. It might make the foundation of a board recruiting plan.

The full report of this study is found in the journal Nonprofit Management and Leadership Fall 2006 "A Scale to Assess Board Member Motivation in Nonprofit Organizations" by Sue Inglis, and Shirley Cleave.

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Giving Makes You Feel Good

Giving to charity, and one assumes volunteering, makes people feel good. Volunteers have been saying that for years. Now scientists have studied the brain to learn that the warm glow of pleasurable sensations following sex or a good meal (or using heroin!) is the same when people give to charity.

A recent study at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in Bethesda, MD, showed that when people gave money away two areas of the brain where pleasure sensations reside were activated. The researcher who lead the project is quoted as saying, "We can promote social welfare through a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying altruistic behavior. Many people think they should not do anything for others unless it has a material benefit for them. But our brains show that you profit emotionally from doing so. Something in our brains shaped by evolution allows us to feel joy when we do good things. It is a biological force and we should not ignore it in promotion of social welfare."

For a free copy of the study send an email to Dr. Jorge Moll at: mollj@ninds.nih.gov.

Interested in more information? Check out our online bookstore for: Episodic Volunteering: Organizing and Managing the Short-Term Volunteer Program, (now available in downloadable PDF format) 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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