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LOCAL GOVERNMENT VOLUNTEER PROGRAMS

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

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Steps for Gearing Up, Changing or Managing a Volunteer Program

Do you have a program that’s dwindling?  Or has someone just asked you to create a new volunteer program?  Here are steps for gearing up, changing or managing a volunteer program

This article is a starting point, emphasizing key trends that might affect your volunteer program. It draws on the future movements and expectations for the volunteer sector including:

  • Budget Cuts:

Since budget cuts remain on the horizon and positions are no longer being easily replaced, your volunteer program may become increasingly more important. You may be requested to add volunteers to departments or to work more closely with other departments to see where volunteers can fill in and help with consistent overload.       

  • Baby Boomers:

In the next few years a large number of baby boomers will retire and shift gears. This shift will increase and change the look of your volunteer program and positions.  Baby Boomers will come with resumes, a list of skills, and interests. They will expect the Manager of Volunteers to find positions for them that directly match their needs, as well as challenge them with measured outcome and flexibility. To get ready for this shift Manager of Volunteers may want to develop a skills bank and/or a pro-bono bank with experts in fields ready to shift into a volunteer assignment that can utilize them. 
To get to know your Baby Boomers early, you may want to partner with corporations that have volunteer programs or start a volunteer shift sharing team.  This will introduce Baby Boomers to your program, making the volunteer experience a natural transition once they retire.  

  • Groups:

Another shift already underway is an increase in the number of groups looking for volunteers. These include corporations looking for team-building experiences, college students interning before they commit to a career, teens looking for school-related volunteer opportunities, persons looking to volunteer for special events, and volunteers who have been court-ordered, all coupled with changes in demographic diversity.
So whether you are starting a new program or just revamping the one already in place, it may be a good idea to consider reviewing the following documents and plans:

      • Review and redefine your mission
      • Reassess your organization’s needs 
      • Update your policies and procedures 
        • Volunteer Handbooks
        • Supervisors’ Handbook and Forms
        • Liability Coverage                 
      • Identify additional supervisors with leadership ability and positive attitude toward working with volunteers
      • Develop challenging volunteer opportunities with future volunteers in mind: 
        • Who is available to volunteer?         
        • When are they available to volunteer?
        • What types of positions are they qualified to do?
      • Update your recordkeeping system 
      • Create a new marketing plan for programs internally and externally.
      • Design an orientation and training program for supervisors and volunteers.
      • Develop an evaluation system for both staff and volunteers.
      • Assess future trends.  

To help you communicate the programs revised vision, consider writing a Volunteer Commitment Policy and share it with your local officials and staff. Here’s an example of one you can put in place:

  • We recognize that employees and volunteers are the City's greatest assets.
  • We provide employees and volunteers with the tools to do their jobs safely and effectively.
  • We encourage two-way communication with citizens and employees, and we reward achievement.
  • We value creativity, innovation, and risk taking.
  • We hold ourselves and others to the highest ethical and professional standards.
  • We strive to continuously improve by developing our employees and volunteers, simplifying processes, and refining systems.
  • We believe all employees and volunteers are responsible for ensuring quality service.
  • We attempt to balance project costs against community needs by utilizing the services of volunteers wherever possible.

 

As the Manager of Volunteers, it is important that you invest time early on to define how these trends will affect your program and what changes you will need to put in place.  Once you identify the changes, share them with your local officials and staff, so you can work together to agree on the program’s revised direction and outcomes.

This is a time of opportunity for volunteer programs.  Gearing up for these changes will prepare your organization for the volunteers of the future and the benefits they have to offer.

Robin Popik has authored this page for several years.  She is taking on a new task as trainer of managers’ of volunteers in Texas.  We wish her well.  We are also looking for someone to author this page in the future.  If you are interested, please email Nancy Macduff at mba@bmi.net for some guidelines on writing.  Thank you Robin.  We will miss your articles. 

 

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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.

ASSOCIATION FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT VOLUNTEER MANAGERS SEEKS MEMBERS

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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