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ASK CONNIE

VT readers ask questions about volunteer management and administration. Ask Connie, an experienced volunteer manager, consultant and trainer, provides the answers for all to see.
Send questions to AskConnieP@cs.com

~2009 ~

Dear Connie:

I'm presenting a workshop for a state volunteer management affiliation this month covering the topic of Volunteer-Staff Relations.  Our attendees will be from a large, diverse volunteer director/manager/coordinator background.  I am purchasing “Building Staff-Volunteer Relations” by Ivan Scheier, but I am also wondering if you are aware of other solid material.  I am also wondering if you've had other questions about this topic.  Thanks for your help. 

DMK

Dear DMK:

It must be the season for this topic because I've had several requests for information about volunteer-staff relationships!  These unique partnerships have in them the element of "human nature," which sometimes makes them difficult to create and manage effectively.  I have found that productive partnerships between staff and volunteers are characterized by:

  • Two-way communication that informs both staff and volunteers about "who is doing what, when, and how."

 

  • Team building that involves volunteers in all levels of the organization's planning and decision making to increase the ownership of institutional goals by everyone.
  • Open, honest evaluation of volunteer activities by both staff and volunteers to increase the success of all volunteer efforts.

 

  • Public and private recognition of the accomplishments of volunteers and their staff partners.

Ivan Scheier's book, "Building Staff-Volunteer Relationships," is an excellent resource.    It’s available at Energize, Inc., , in both an electronic version ($9.00) and print ($16.95).  You'll find valuable philosophical insight in it about staff-volunteer partnerships as well as helpful checklists.  Ivan believes that, "The success of a volunteer program depends as much on staff motivation as it does on volunteer motivation." If you want to assess the state of volunteer and staff relations in your organization try the Volunteer Program Evaluation Series-"Volunteer and Staff Relations" available at VPES. Another good resource is “Building Better Relationships with Volunteers,” by Nan Hawthorne.  It’s available for $28.70 here at Volunteer Today Bookstore


Dear Connie:

I am a Volunteer Coordinator and have never held a position like this before.  I need the very first steps in how to go about recruiting volunteers.  I am finding the hardest time to obtain volunteers is during the week during the day.  We are always in need of volunteers here in the office, and I can't seem to find anyone who doesn't work to come into the office.  What is the first thing I should do in order to recruit, not only dedicated volunteers but also enthusiastic and mature volunteers?

Help Needed in Boise!

Dear Boise:

Since you're new to the volunteer management profession, I'm going to hop up on my soapbox for a few minutes!  Your best recruiting tool is your volunteer program and you want it to be as "attractive" as possible to potential volunteers.  Before you begin your recruitment campaign, I suggest you ask yourself a few questions:

1. Do I have a mission/values/vision statement that makes it clear where the volunteer program fits into the entire organization?

2. Do I have current and accurate policies and procedures for involving volunteers?

3. Are my volunteer task descriptions current and flexible and do they give meaningful tasks to volunteers?

4. Do I have a process to evaluate volunteers on a periodic basis?

5. Do I have a volunteer (and staff) recognition plan for formal and informal expressions of appreciation?

Two valuable resources that I recommend are "Volunteer Recruiting and Retention: A Marketing Approach," by Nancy Macduff, and "The Volunteer Recruitment (and Membership Development) Book," by Susan Ellis.  You can order Nancy's book at the Volunteer Today Bookstore for $37.00. The Volunteer Today Bookstore also carries Steve McCurley and Rick Lynch's book "Volunteer Management: Mobilizing all the Resources of the Community." ($40.) Susan's book is available at Energize, Inc. for $18.95. 


Interested in assessing your volunteer recruiting strategies?

Use a self-directed evaluation tool

Get help with one of the Volunteer Program Evaluation Series.

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Do you have a question? Now you too can ask an expert!

Connie Pirtle, of Strategic NonProfit-Resources, has 15 years' experience in working with volunteers. She has consulted and/or trained for such organizations as the Washington National Cathedral, Anchorage Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Music America, and the Association for Volunteer Administration.

Send your questions to Connie at AskConnieP@cs.com.
Connie Pirtle
Strategic Nonprofit Resources
10103 Edward Avenue * Bethesda, MD 20814 * VOICE: 301-530-8233 * FAX: 301-530-8299


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