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This page is devoted to the management of volunteer programs at the federal government level.

~ August 2011~


Fiscal Year 2012 is quickly approaching for federal agencies.  For the nonprofit sector, you have just entered your fiscal year.  We hear that this year is going to be tough, tight, and trying.  Translation:  Be prepared volunteer department – you WILL get hit.  You will get hit with requests for volunteer resources, donations (if you handle them) and everything in between.  Prepare the troops.  Get ready. 

In an effort to be prepared for the budget, I am working on new ways to look at the data I collect.  To do this, I contacted our quality management department on how to develop dashboards, show them what is currently collected, and go on from there.

What happened?  Well, we were told that what is collected and tracked is ‘good’ but “you’re bean counting.”  Huh?  Bean counting?  I’m not counting beans. I’m tracking the number of volunteer applications mailed and what percentage of the total comes back to us.  We monitor the volunteer interviews – show and no shows.  We count how many families we assisted in our family lounge.  And this is considered bean counting?  Yes and no.

After time with quality management, to my surprise, I got excited to see what else we can monitor.  For example, about one third of our volunteer workforce is college students.  We are thinking about looking at our turnover rate between 18-30 year olds.  What can we do better to tighten up the process?  Do we need to make revisions to the commitment we want them to make?  Just some food for thought.cartoons

Another example is the donation process that I manage.  What percentage of donations coming in each month (monetary, not gift-in-kind) is spent to meet our patients’ needs?  But each month varies by the time of year.  December, for example, is typically higher than June and July.  And I continue to think.

We (administrators of volunteers) are the only ones who can develop the dashboard, the measures to which we hold ourselves accountable.  However, working on the dashboard formally also goes to our quality management council.  Is there a sense of urgency to report the data we collect?  What is done with it? Does anyone care except us?  Is there a process that needs to be improved?  Is there something that you wondered about but didn’t know it was happening?  Now is the time to think about the data you collect and why you collect it.  Who else sees it?  Do you do an annual report or do you just share the numbers at the annual volunteer recognition luncheon when perhaps your audience should really be senior leadership?

With the new fiscal year approaching, justifying what you do, how and when you do it only becomes more crucial in the world of volunteer administration.

Best of luck for a productive, successful, and fun fiscal year.

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The author of the Federal Government Volunteer Programs page is melissa.heinlein@va.gov, MA, MS, CAVS. Melissa is the Chief of Voluntary Service at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center, (215) 823-5868. Before venturing to the nonprofit sector, Melissa Heinlein spent time working for financial, IT, and pharmaceutical companies. With her business and marketing background, she took those skills and worked for Junior Achievement and structured a formal volunteer program at Hope Springs Equestrian Therapy before going into healthcare at Abington Memorial Hospital as the Assistant Director of Volunteer Resources. Her latest adventure is Chief, Voluntary Service at Philadelphia VA Medical Center. Melissa is past president and current board member of the Delaware Valley of Association for Volunteer Administration and current member-at-large for PSDVS, Eastern Chapter. She serves as an advisor for a grassroots organization “Spark the Wave” to encourage youth volunteerism. She holds a MA in Communications from West Chester University, MS in Administration of Human Services from Chestnut Hill College, and is a certified administrator of volunteer services through ASDVS. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Human Development at Marywood University. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, writing, sports, and exploring the outdoors. She prides herself when she talks about interacting with volunteers 5-99 years old – horses and dogs included.


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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