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

~ March 2011~


So after a long winter, it’s time to start wiping away the dust, opening the windows, and let the cleaning begin!  Storage closets filled with giveaways, bins with volunteer uniforms, and papers galore…start making a sweep.  But don’t forget to include your office!

cleaning pailDid you ever think that in your cleaning, your office – your entire departmental space as a whole – is a recruitment, retention, and recognition tool?  Here are a few things to think about:

  • Do you have extra volunteer newsletters available to potential candidates? Employees who have children?
  • Do you have volunteer applications readily available for walk-ins?
  • Is there an office volunteer to also greet potential volunteers and perhaps provide them with a 30-second overview of the process and expectations?  There’s nothing better than a volunteer to recruit a volunteer.
  • Do you have a bulletin board of pictures for new candidates to see volunteers in action?
  • How much fun goes on in your office?  Can you hear laughter echoing down the hall?  (it’s really okay to have fun at work)

    Recognition and Retention
  • Do you have small items to give away to volunteers?  Are these items visible to your volunteers when they walk in?
  • Do you have someone to greet volunteers when they walk in to your office?
  • How much time do you spend just saying “hello” and “thank you?”
  • Do the volunteers have a place to put their personal belongings such as a lounge?
  • Are there pictures of volunteers in the office? 
  • Are there motivational posters or flyers on your door? bulletin board? 
  • Do staff write notes to volunteers that are visible in the office?

    We often get tied in the day-to-day running around craziness as if we’ve lost our mind.  I keep my house nice and tidy for friends and family and unexpected guests.  To do the same for the office will show respect and anticipation for current and future wonderful volunteers to walk through your door (or auditors, surveyors depending on what is going on). 

    Happy cleaning!

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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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