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On this page are ideas from strategies to help you work more efficiently to the latest in research on keeping volunteers happy and productive, as well as ideas, suggestions and hints to build volunteer recruitment capacity.

~October 2008~



The Right To:

The Responsibility To:

1. a job that is worthwhile and challenging

1. know his/her limits

2. be trusted with necessary confidential information

2. respect confidences

3.  be kept informed on what is happening in the organization

3. follow organizational guidelines

4.  expect that his/her tasks have been planned for

4. prepare for each work assignment

5.  an assignment that will promote learning and growth

5. use time wisely; not interfere with other's performance

6.  orientation and training

6. acknowledge the need for training and participate fully

7. receive advice and support from a designated supervisor

7.  consult with supervisor when unclear on policy or action

8.  appropriate recognition even on a day-to-day basis

8.  give constructive feedback that will improve effectiveness

9.  out-of-pocket reimbursements, whenever possible

9.  refuse gifts or tips from recipients of service

10. be treated in a professional manner

10. work as a team member


The Right To:

The Responsibility To:

1.  decline any volunteer thought unsuitable

1.  make all necessary qualifications known ahead of time

2.   expect that the volunteer will complete assignments accepted

2.   provide for adequate time and training for each assignment

3.   give instructions as to how the work is to be done

3. make sure the volunteer understands the task

4.   give the volunteer a trial or probationary period

4. set and maintain standards

5.   evaluate the volunteer's performance

5. provide feedback in constructive terms

6.   expect quality performance

6.  allocate supporting resources; give recognition for work done

7.   report problems and progress to person who coordinates volunteers

7.  keep good communications with the volunteer program office

8.    schedule volunteers when work space is available

8.   provide adequate, pleasant work space

9.    have his/her own opinion on the merit of volunteer involvement

9.   not over generalize about volunteers

10.   be respected and trusted as a colleague

10.  respect and trust volunteers in return

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Distance Volunteer Management

         There are an increasing number of volunteers who work at a distance from the office that houses paid staff or middle manager volunteers.  Supervising the distance volunteer presents challenges different from the person who is seen on a more regular basis. 
Distance can be:

  • physical distance-the person is separated from the main location of the organization, across a state, province, or country
  • intellectual distance-the person is doing work that is highly specialized and little understood by the person doing the management
  • technology-the work the individual does is via the Internet or Web and there is little or no contact with the individual

Managing begins with a few basic concepts:

  • It is not much different from managing people on-site
  • it involves basic management activities such as setting and communicating goals, assessing progress and giving regular feedback.
  • When using the Internet it provides a written record of volunteer activities (via e-mail and chat archives).
  • Communication needs to be efficient and effective

Tips to aid the process of supervising the distance volunteer

    • Set clear goals.
    • Be certain tasks and timetables are understood.
    • Establish dates when reports or projects should be submitted, reviewed, completed.
    • Create a process for regular communication with one another.
    • Avoid the overuse of email contact.  If you must send an email, be brief and to the point.
    • Consider creating a blog or web-based groups of volunteers, so distance volunteers can communicate with you and others doing similar work.
    • Periodically call volunteers to build a personal relationship.
    • Keep the distance volunteer well informed.  Send regular, consistent updates on the organization and its programs. Share information such information as new employees, new volunteers, and important events. Help volunteers feel connected.
    • Find ways to create clever follow up notices. Do this before something is due as a gentle reminder.
    • Send an annual summary of work performed, clients served, outcomes reached.
    • Share achievements among volunteers.
    • Send each volunteer a handwritten card at least once a year. Email is convenient, but a personal note is still a nice touch.
    • Be personal and make an effort to combine high tech with high touch.


Information on the article “Distance Supervision” was adapted from two Web based sources.  Readers wanting more detailed information on this topic, might visit them. http://www.serviceleader.org/new/virtual/2003/04/000118print.php and http://www.worldvolunteerweb.org/resources/how-to-guides/manage-volunteers/doc/technology-and-long-distance.html

Interested in Assessing Your Recruiting?
Volunteer Program Evaluation Series has an Assessment Tool

Visit the VPES Home page for details: http://www.volunteertoday.com/VPES/vpeshome.html


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