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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.

~ May 2010 ~


Response Exercise

DIRECTIONS:  The following are common responses listeners give to speakers.

a.  responding by asking questions (example - Speaker:  "I don't know what is wrong.  He got a call and now he won't speak to me."  Listener:  "How long has he been that way?")

b.  responding by making judgments (example - Speaker:  "I think I will quit my job."  Listener:  "I don't think you should do that.  You might never find another.")

c.  responding with advice (example - Speaker:  "No one is interested in me.  I am boring."  Listener:  "You seem interesting to me.  Maybe you could try to take up a hobby."

Read each of the following statements and the list of responses.  Mark them Q for question response; J for judgment response; A for advice response; and AL for active listening response.

A. If my brother had done that, my dad wouldn't have asked a question.  It's always been like that.

How do you feel about it?
You and your brother never did get along.
You feel your dad has always discriminated against you and you resent it.
Boy, you sure have it pegged each time.  Your brother gets away with everything.
I bet your dad had a good reason.  They usually do.


B. There was a general lay off yesterday at the plant.  I was fired after all those years.  I have no idea what to do. 

What plant is it?
You just can't believe this could happen.
I'll bet you feel bewildered.
You didn't do something?  What do you think it was?
You've had steady employment all these years and now you are jobless and confused.

C. I don't have any friends.  I know so few people.  I try not to care.  People just aren't dependable, everyone is out for himself or herself.

You have a hard time being yourself around people, so you act like you don't care.
Maybe not wanting friends is hiding deeper emotions.
It's tough when you don't have friends.  I would sure get to work and do something about it.
Listen, here's what to do!  Join this health club.  You will meet lots of people.
You want to have a real friend and you are not sure where to get started.
I can't face it.

D. I can't face it.

It appears to be an impossible task and you feel threatened.
I'm sure it will be difficult, but I know you can do it.
Try it.  It won't be so bad.
Give me the reason you don't think you can face it.
It is a situation you have to deal with, but can't.

E. I have never met anyone like her.  I thought I knew dynamic women before, but this is the real thing.  She is pretty and bright and talented.

How does she compare to other women?
You sure have some superficial reasons for liking her.
Boy are you excited about this woman.
You are proud to be with her and feel great about yourself.
You do this every time you meet a new woman.

Answer key is a click away.

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Volunteers are increasingly taking on responsible positions.  It is important that the volunteer and director of volunteer services understand what is expected from the volunteer.  A performance standard is not a position description.  It is written in advance of the position description, so it can be used in outlining major responsibilities.  The performance standard is used after the volunteer is selected and begins his/her work.   It is a method of evaluating volunteer   Performance standards are measurable, observable, flexible, demanding, and achievable.

a.  keep them brief
b.  write them down
c.  make them specific enough to be attainable

A performance standard:

a.  says something about the volunteer
b.  talks about ends, not means
c.  describes things the volunteer can use to meet the standard
d.  identifies a criteria the is measurable or observable
e.  establishes an acceptable level of performance

The different types of performance standards address such volunteer behaviors as:

a.  the ability to discriminate--judge work output
b.  the ability to manipulate--use equipment in appropriate and safe ways.
c.  the ability to communicate verbally--with supervisor, other staff, other volunteers
d.  the ability to remember--commit to memory important job elements
e.  the ability to solve problems--work and personal issues affecting performance
f.  the ability to have a positive attitude--team work and      client and/or customer service


  • The volunteer completes six entry forms per hour
  • The volunteer maintains confidentiality related to client entry forms and person contacts.
  • The volunteer assess client need and determine an appropriate placement based on organizational criteria.
  • The volunteer will work cooperatively with other volunteers and paid staff.

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1.  Tell one story to one audience.  A single vehicle cannot address multiple ideas or appeal to multiple audiences.

2.  Figure out the purpose of that brochure.  Is it designed to sell (a volunteer opportunity), to recruit (adult males), to inform (phone service), or to set an image (X Program)?

3.  Write to the specific purpose you have in mind.

4.  Keep it simple.  Use one major photograph, illustration, or design element.  Use only one family of type.   Keep your headlines bold and larger than your text.  And don't cost yourself extra money by making an odd-sized brochure that won't fit into a mailing envelope if the brochure is intended for mailing.  Make it easy for people to read.  Don't make your type go in different directions.  Determine the reading level of text.

5.  Make your headline tell the story.  On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy.  Headlines should appeal to the reader's self interest by promising a benefit.  Don't use tricky or irrelevant headlines.  Use words that contain an emotional impact.

6. Your text should contain facts, simply stated, and explain the benefits of your information to the reader.

7.  Your visual element should be the most graphic, appealing, poignant picture of your theme.  Don't use 10 pictures in a small space.  Use one or two.  And don't crowd your picture with people.  It will have no focal point.  The same goes for illustrations and design elements.

8.  Make the best use of your space.  There is a lot to be said for the effective use of white space.  But, watch out for blank space.  It will look like you had nothing to say.

9.  If your brochure has a return coupon, make sure that when your reader tears it off he doesn't return to you important information that he needs to keep.  Also watch to see that the reader is left with your organization's contact information.  If he tears that off and returns it to you, how can he contact you again if he needs to?

10.  If you need to prepare something for reproduction and you don't know how, ask for help.  From whom?  Local professional artists, photographers, writers and printers.  Maybe local newspaper photographers and reporters would be willing to volunteer their time.  Or, if there is a community college, college or university near you, contact the journalism department and the art department for assistance from students.  You might develop an internship for such students to deal with both print items, as well as Web based.

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