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This page is devoted to the management of volunteer programs at the local level, including information for cities, counties, boards, commissions, and districts.

~ September 2007 ~ Topics

Wind of Change- Image Awareness Can Put the Wind Back Into Your Program

Wind of Change- Image Awareness Can Put the Wind Back Into Your Program

Can creating and maintain a positive program image help you as Volunteer Managers? Well, it certainly can't hurt!! Government volunteer programs are under constant scrutiny as to the impact they are making in their community, as well as how much money they are saving their organization. As Volunteer Managers we know that once our programs are up and running, there is little to no time to stop and recreate our image. Yet, this has now become of the utmost importance.

Have you noticed in the last few years, you have been telling people, "For more information you can go to our website, or turn on your high definition TV, or read the annual report on line?" As you can see, "the times they are a changing," not only where volunteers can find your information, but what they are looking for in a program and in a volunteer opportunity.

This topic of image was just one of the many discussed during the NAVPLG (National Association of Volunteer Programs in Local Government) session at the Points of Light Conference in Philadelphia. The answers to how you can update your image came from a panel of experts in the field of Volunteer Managers. The experts' answer was, "Follow the wind of change and change with it!" Their ideas on how and why to change your image are listed below:

1. Take the Entrepreneurial Approach

  • Let people know what is going on, both internally and externally.
  • Get invited to the proverbial table where you can tell your story.
  • Change or start your program with confidence.
  • Be proactive and optimistic.
  • Send a positive image of competence to your key constituents (i.e., officials, department managers, citizens, colleagues and supervisors).
  • Take time to think about what your desired image should look like.
  • Determine if it is necessary to create a different image from one constituent to another.

2. Do Your Homework and Work Hard

  • Always deliver what you promise to others.
  • Don't take on more than you can deliver.
  • Help people see your word as bonding.
  • Understand your organization well enough to anticipate its needs. If the organization is too large, find associates in different areas to keep you abreast of the changes and needs.

3. Always Show Up

  • Be visible at all types of events.
  • Share and collect success stories or measurable outcomes about your volunteers.
  • Listen to what people say. Always be on the lookout for new information that can help you.
  • Network as much as possible. Introduce yourself to people who can help you get the word out about your program.
  • Be a team player, whether it's on a taskforce, special event, or recognition program.

4. Develop an Image Using Media

  • Create print pieces that tell a success story. Share them with the newspapers and TV stations.
  • Capture your audience in 20 words or less. State your mission, find catchy themes or slogans, and adjust your message to the changing audience.
  • Be persuasive! Make the media your friend.

5. Put a Cost Benefit Value on Your Program for a Measurable Impact. Examples:

  • 700 volunteers assisted over 4,000 special needs participants in 140 programs.
  • Senior Center volunteers served over 500 meals a month and assisted over 400 daily visitors and callers.
  • Senior Knit volunteers made 2,000 blankets, sweaters, and hats which were donated to patients in medical facilities.
  • The Adopt-A-Highway program had over 300 volunteers who logged in 3,606 hours, completing 166 road cleanups with over 9.16 tons of litter picked up.
  • The Literacy for Life volunteers served over 180 patrons with 155 volunteers contributing more than 4,000 hours.

In today's world there is a good chance that your image will be key to whether or not the volunteer response to your request for assistance. Therefore, the same old information must be revamped for a more sophisticated internet audience. Different types of stories need to be shared. Volunteering is no longer just the older gentlemen in engineering assisting with data entry. It is also the high tech men and women teaching seniors to use the internet or help the new immigrant converse in English. Your logos and newsletters should also receive regular facelifts to keep people coming back. Your program's image should have wider appeal to attract new volunteers, as well as to retain those comfortable and seasoned volunteers. So remember, as you redesigning positions to match your maturing city and community, consider revamping your image to reflect those changing winds.

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Short description of this series: "Organizations are successful at achieving their mission when volunteers and staff are a team. Evaluate the elements of the relationships in your organization and outline the strategies to make things better."

Purchase this package by clicking on either of the following links, which will redirect you to a secure shopping site. Evaluation Only $25.00 and Evaluation & Consultation Package - Best Deal! $99.95 (Resource List not available on this package.)

The author of the Local Government Volunteer Programs page is Robin Popik. Robin has been the Volunteer Resources Supervisor for the City of Plano for over 17 years. Under her direction, the Volunteer Resources Group now has grown to encompass 3 programs. The original program VIP has grown to approx. 5000 volunteers per year, with an average of 1000 individuals a month, with a value of over $1.2 million a year. The program has been recognized as a model and has won numerous awards including the Distinguished Service Award from the Association of Volunteer Administration, the Civic and Leadership group award and the Texas Governors Leadership Award. Robin is President of Collin County VOAD (Volunteer Organization Active in Disaster) and is the Citizen Corp Council representative for Plano. She has been a trainer and has written articles on many topics related to Volunteer Management. She is the past president the National Association of Volunteer Programs in Local Government, and member of ARNOVA, an international membership organization dedicated to fostering through research an understanding of the nonprofit sector, philanthropy and volunteerism. She has a Masters in Management from the University of Texas at Dallas and a certification in Volunteer Management from the University of Colorado, and in the past few years, has taking numerous courses in Emergency Volunteer Management including FEMA courses: 1) Emergency Operation Center; 2) Incident Command Systems; 3) Donations Management; 4) Volunteer Management in Disaster; 5) CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) Program, 6) Public Information Officer course (4/04) and Integrated Emergency Management Course at EMI (8/04), NIMS 700, 100, and 200 and American Red Cross Shelter Management.


The National Association of Volunteer Programs in Local Government (NAVPLG) is an association of administrators, coordinators and directors of volunteer programs in local government. Its purpose is to strengthen volunteer programs in local government through leadership, advocacy, networking and information exchange. NAVPLG is an affiliate of the National Association of Counties and is seeking affiliate status with the National League of Cities. Cost is $20 for individuals and $75 for group local government membership. An affiliate membership is $25 and is intended for those who are not local government members but may have an interest in the group. There is a quarterly newsletter, national network, and access to NACo's Volunteerism Project. For more information contact Robin Popik, who is a Volunteer Resource Supervisor. She can be reached by phone at 972-941-7114. Be sure to mention you read about this in Volunteer Today.

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