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Find tips to oversee the work of volunteers and practical suggestions to supervise them. Everything from ideas to help you work more efficiently to the latest in research on keeping volunteers happy and productive.

~ May 2007 ~ Topics

Tips to Delegate Responsibilities
Organizing For Political Campaigns

checkmark image Tips to Delegate Responsibilities

Despite our best intentions sometimes it is hard to delegate tasks to volunteers or other paid staff. There are powerful reasons to delegate. Here are some that double as methods to give those tasks away.

    • Fight the urge to do things yourself - It can lead to burnout for you and potentially resentment from others who would like to share in the work.
    • Expands your reach through delegating tasks - It can provide new ideas and new connections.
    • Empower volunteers and paid staff - Give other people a chance to use or develop new skills.  This intensifies their commitment to the organization.
    • Delegate to increase program growth - It is difficult for one person to take on new projects, events or issues unless there are others who can help with existing tasks.

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Organizing For Political Campaigns

Former Senator Bill Bradley has written a book, The New American Life, about political life in the USA, what is needed and what should happen. One notion of his is that citizens need to engage in volunteer driven political campaigns on topics of interest, rather than wait for candidates or people “at the top” to find solutions to such things as health care and education reform. Imagine how can be accomplished if dozen of volunteers banded together to tackle a local, state, or national issue.

Why is this an issue for a professional manager of volunteers? More and more volunteers want to help organizations by moving along legislative, policy, or decision-making processes. Teaching them how to organize for political impact can serve the mission of the program and/or organization.

bullet image Volunteers are better qualified than anyone on to recruit and organize people in your area who are knowledgeable on the topic.

bullet image One person serves as a liaison between the people deeply interested in the organization, the organization, and the community.

bullet image Make sure the liaison person is introduced to key stakeholders. The volunteer coordinator might facilitate introductions to key staff.

bullet image Valuable support can come from those in the organization and the community members support the issue at hand.

bullet image Utilize natural resources. National resources are media outlets, people and organizations that support the initiative.

bullet image Identify the places where people interested in the issue can be found. For example, supporters of a political campaign to get bike lanes might find natural resources at bike repair shops or stores that sell bicycles. Be sure that you concentrate your volunteer recruitment efforts on these areas to attract as much support as possible.

bullet image Draft a simple, one-page flyer, which notes you are looking for political volunteers to work toward electing pro-bike land candidates to office.

bullet image List the candidate’s name and the office he/she is seeking on the flyer, and distribute and post these flyers anywhere you believe supporters can be found. Be sure all volunteers have a supply. Set up tables at community events to recruit volunteer support as well.

bullet image Maximize the individual resources, experiences, and interests of your volunteers. Bear in mind that all volunteers have different experiences, interests, resources, and time constraints which must be taken into consideration in order to get the maximum output from a volunteer team.

bullet image You will never know what someone is willing to do or contribute unless you ask." Do not be afraid to ask the volunteers to undertake an assignment even if you have a hunch the answer may be "no." You might be surprised with a star performer whom you may have otherwise been overlooked because you failed to ask.

bullet image If someone cannot or will not perform a specific task it does not mean he/she is unwilling to participate. Keep each person’s individual circumstances in mind.

bullet image Look for volunteer resources of more than time.  Someone in the volunteer corps may own a business with multi-phone line capacity and is willing to allow you to use these phones for phone banking activities. In our example, bike clubs in the area may be willing to give you their membership lists to personally contact these individuals to find out if they are registered to vote or interested in helping out with your election activities.

bullet image Persons interested in volunteering probably have full-time jobs, and therefore consider managing the resource of time yet another resource—their time!  Ask how much time each individual volunteer can give.   Be sure to ask the best time to reach them -- during the day or after the dinner hour, and then be sure to stick to that schedule.

bullet image Look for people with previous political experience and get them to teach those who have none. For those individuals who have previous campaign experience, be sure to delegate tasks equivalent to their skill and experience levels. For those who may be working on a campaign for the first time, try to ensure that they are comfortable with their assignments, and give them more responsibilities as they become more familiar with the process.

bullet image Happy volunteers are productive volunteers. When possible provide volunteers with jobs which they will enjoy. For example, an individual interested in the financial aspects of a campaign may relish concentrating on fund-raising activities, while someone who works on the telephone all day may not enjoy placing outbound calls during a phone bank.

bullet image Use an election activities volunteer information form. To identify and record the resources, experiences, time constraints and interests each of your volunteers has to offer is to have every volunteer complete an Election Activities Volunteer Information Form (a sample form is shown below). The information collected from volunteers can be entered into a computer database. The computer database will allow you to sort your list in a number of different ways, e.g., by zip code, phone number, interests, city, etc. Find a volunteer who might have limited mobility but is interested in the cause to create a database that is easy to sort. Task that volunteer with maintaining the database. Be sure to assure people that names and data will never be shared.

bullet image Always have specific activities prepared for the volunteers to do. A sure way to lose your volunteers is to have them offer their time only to find out when they show up to work that there is nothing for them to do!

Election Activities Volunteer Information Form



City:___________________ State:_____ Zip Code: __________

Phone Numbers:

   Day:____________________ Eve:_______________________Fax: ____________________

Do you have a computer?  YES ___ NO ___

Do you have an Internet access?  YES ___ NO ___

Are you registered to vote?  YES ___ NO ___

Party affiliation:

            Democrat ___ Republican ___ Independent ___ Other ___

Congressional district or representative: ___________________________________

State representative/assembly district: _____________________________________

State senator/district: ___________________________________________________

Have you worked on a candidate’s campaign before?  YES ___ NO ___

If yes, name of candidate and office sought: __________________________________

What activities did you participate in?_______________________________________

Are you active in your local political party?  YES ___ NO ___

How much time can you donate to the campaign?

            Weekends only ___ Weekdays ___ Weeknights ___

Please list any special skills, resources, talents or interests you have and would like to offer the campaign: _______________________________________________________________________________



Interested in more information? Check out our online bookstore for Secrets of Leadership by Rick Lynch & Sue Vineyard and Best of All: The Quick Reference Guide to Effective Volunteer Involvement by Linda Graff.

Details for Secrets of Leadership Book Details for Best of All Book

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Washington State University offers a Volunteer Management Certification Program through the Internet. Individuals around the world can earn a certificate in managing or coordinating volunteers, without leaving home. For more information, visit Volunteer Today's Portal site, Internet Resources. Look for the Washington State University listing. There is a hot link to their Web site.

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Liz Needham

Liz Needham is currently the Volunteer Services Coordinator for the City of Raleigh Retired and Senior Volunteer Program and Foster Grandparent Program. She has 12 years of managerial and supervisory experience in the non-profit, local government and business sectors. She can be reached by email at: elizabeth.needham@ci.raleigh.nc.us or by phone at: (919) 831-6098.

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