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HEALTH CARE VOLUNTEER PROGRAMS

This page is devoted to the management of volunteer programs in health care settings.

~June 2011~

That’s why we get paid the “big bucks.”

THAT'S WHY WE GET PAID THE "BIG BUCKS"

 

According to the experts, the recession is supposed to be over.  But it doesn’t feel like it here.  While the rest of the country faced looming financial challenges these last two years, some healthcare organizations are just now beginning to feel the devastating implications.  That brings with it tough choices and decisions.

For those DVS’ who have oversight for gift shops along with other volunteer functions, you can relate to the following challenges:

  • In today’s world, it continues to become increasingly difficult to keep the gift shop open and staffed with an entire volunteer force.  Long gone are the days when volunteers would do “whatever or wherever you need me – it doesn’t matter.”  And paid staff directly impacts the profits from the gift shop.
  • The majority of volunteers still willing to staff gift shops are aging in place and reluctant to change the way things are done.  After all, they are used to doing things the way they have been doing them for 20, 30, 40 or even 50 years with little (if any) oversight.  Overall, things have been working just fine, why should anything change?  That also includes why in the world would you put a paid staff person with me while I’m here.
  • The retail market is cutthroat competitive.  With the likes of big box discount retailers where you can get just about anything in every town and seemingly on every corner, it is becoming increasingly difficult to have an appealing retail entity with new and fresh merchandise.
  • Add the aging volunteer mix to the new and fresh merchandise concept (especially where volunteers are doing the buying) and you could be setting yourself up for disaster.
  • A returning customer base (the employees) who demand good service, new and fresh merchandise, value for their money and periodic sales and specials.  
  • Limited marketing capability within the organization.  Usually done by either posted flyers or periodic e-newsletter notification, money for paid advertisements is generally unheard of and not generally in the budget.
  • Hospital administration folks have come to recognize that gift shop profits could be an untapped source of revenue.  Now that they have that realization, they are quick to look closer and determine how to maximize the revenue.

With all the different perspectives (volunteers, customers, vendors, suppliers), how can the gift shop meet the many demands?  How does that translate to the DVS? 

Whether it is gently supplementing volunteer staff with paid employees, setting spending thresholds or completely re-organizing the gift shop organization, these choices and decisions are hard on us.  Sometimes the choices and decisions that make the most financial sense are hard because these decisions have an impact on people:  living, breathing people with feelings, emotions, challenges and life experiences.  After all, most of us are in this volunteer business because we are caring, nurturing, empathetic people.  Nonetheless, like it or not, we have to step up to the challenge and try to make the best choices and decisions with minimal impact in order to sustain the gift shop and what it provides the patients, family members and visitors. 

In other words, as my boss recently reminded me in a particularly challenging situation…”That’s why you make the big bucks.”


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The author of the Heath Care Volunteer Programs column is Mary Kay Hood MS, Hendricks Regional Health, Danville, IN (317) 745-3556. With a BS degree in biology from Marian College and a Master of Science in Management from Indiana Wesleyan University, Mary Kay has been involved in volunteer management over twenty years with a zoo and in the health care field. During that time, she completed the Management of Volunteer Programs course offered at University of Indianapolis, several supervisory training programs as well as the Indiana Hospital and Health Association’s Management Institute offered by the Executive Education Program, School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University. Mary Kay served on the Nonprofit Training Center of United Way from 1993 to 2006. During that time, she taught many workshops also facilitating speaker arrangements for the Basic Volunteer Management series. Additionally, she has presented at various national and international conferences. Mary Kay served as president of the Central Indiana Association for Volunteer Administration (CIAVA) from 1993-1997 and the Indiana Society of Directors of Volunteer Services (ISDVS) from 2006-2008. She was also the recipient of the 1995 Outstanding Director of Volunteer Services Award and the 2002 United Way of Central Indiana Volunteer of the Year Award. Most recently she served on the Steering Committee for COVAA resulting in the formation of a new national membership organization for those in volunteer management, the Association of Leaders in Volunteer Engagement (AL!VE). With several published articles, she is also author to two books: The One Minute Answer to Volunteer Management Questions and The Volunteer Leader as Change Agent.

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