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ENGAGING & MANAGING VOLUNTEERS

On this page are ideas to help you work more efficiently with volunteers. There are tips on recruiting, engaging, coordinating, and managing the work of volunteers.

~ July 2010 ~

woman

KEYS TO DISTANCE SUPERVISION

Managing volunteers from a distance requires pre-planning.  Some tasks lend themselves to being done at a distance.  Some people like the autonomy of working without being in a building or location where other volunteers are.  Here are some tips to make distance supervision successful.

 1.  Develop/use job descriptions:  duties, time frames, evaluation process, reporting lines,

 2.  Seek autonomous people during recruitment:  advertise properly, check the job description, ask questions about working independently, check references carefully (especially about working autonomously).

 3.  Be clear about evaluation and supervision process:  written criteria, forms available at selection to explaining evaluation/supervision procedures,

 4.  Have a planning process:  use measurable goals and objectives to plan, ask volunteers for work plan, evaluate plan regularly, have back-up plan,

 5.  Learn to delegate:  be a manager not a doer, anticipate problems - plan for them, delegate tasks, analyze work flow, let everyone know your criteria for making decisions, and stay in contact regularly.

 6.  Use modern technology to communicate:  computers, FAX-machines, telephone, audio/video tapes, blogs, twitter, FaceBook, YouTube,  and build expenses into your budget—both $$ and time

7.  Be a good decision maker:  be prompt, seek in-put, know your program and people, compromise, realize change is slow,

8. Support the work done:  encouragement, understanding, sensitive to personal feelings, heaps of praise, understand people working alone, be fair, delegate, be sure to check inregularly, recognition appropriate to the distance volunteer.

9.  Take care of yourself:  build visits into your annual work plan, delegate, manage time and stress, accept help willingly, resolve conflicts promptly.


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ASSESSING THE VALUE OF EPISODIC VOLUNTEERS

People are increasingly requesting episodic volunteer positions.  The manager or director of volunteers needs to be able to demonstrate the value—quantitatively and qualitatively of this type of volunteering. 

Establish the value begins by defining the different types of episodic opportunities the organization has currently and then enumerating the difference in the value of different types of episodic volunteering.

The manager of volunteers can use the tables below as guides to provide this information to paid staff and long-term volunteers.  Definitions would stay the same, but examples would be from the organization.

Here are definitions of the different types of episodic volunteers.

Definitions and Examples of Episodic Volunteering Types

Type

Definition

Examples

Temporary Episodic

One time service only-do not see person again

Check coats at an event,   collect tickets at event, come with employee group to paint walls, etc

Interim Episodic

Provide service for 6-9 months; once and not return.  Akin to intern

Person completing court ordered community service hours, student doing a semester internship, etc.

Occasional Episodic

Similar service or task that is repeated annually, but for short period of time

Person who works a fund raising event every year, but does nothing else, chair a once per year event that takes less then 3-4 months to plan and carry out, etc.

Value to the Organization of Episodic Volunteers

Type

Quantitative Value

Qualitative Value

Temporary Episodic

Increase number of volunteers, increase number of volunteer hours (useful in grant applications), provide assistance in large events-increase “hands” to do the jobs

More people to talk about the work of the organization, more people to interact with clients, members, patrons, puts less difficult tasks in the hands of novices so long term volunteers can do more difficult tasks

Interim Episodic

Increase number of volunteers, increase number of volunteer hours (useful in grant applications), possibility to complete projects by intense concentrated service

Can engage volunteer to complete time limited project in short time, if a student is a volunteer the organization is developing an on-going relationship with a college or university

Occasional Episodic

Well trained, experienced person to work on events or projects, increase number of volunteers, increase number of volunteer hours (useful in grant applications)

Returnee volunteer does not require training, can supervise other short term volunteers, has knowledge of organization and its mission

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