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

~March 2011~

My Two Best Friends


In any organization there are those people that we “gravitate” to as we seek to fit in the culture and norms.  But there are two people I would encourage you to seek out and become friends with – largely because the relationship will be beneficial to you.  “What two people?” you say:  the human resource director and the risk management director.  “Why?” you ask:  let me explain.handshake

Let’s face it, the work that we do every day is largely the same work that the human resource director does.   Only we do it for the non-paid staff.  That means that we are in the business of dealing with people.  People come with all kinds of issues/questions/challenges.  Consequently, we deal with some of the same people dilemmas that human resource directors deal with on a daily basis.  It is only logical that we would make “friends” with the human resources director. 

It is helpful to have a “go-to” person in the department to discuss any issues that may arise.  When the problems arise (and trust me, they will), you have a sounding board to insure that your decisions and process in handling any problems will mirror those of the organization without compromising your program or the organization.

The second person key to running a successful volunteer program is the risk management director.  It seems as though when organizations are not sure what to do with duties and responsibilities, they often wind up in the volunteer services department.  While volunteers can often be the best champions for the organization, we do not need to feel “dumped on.”  That is why it is important to be friends with the risk management director.  Part of the responsibility of the volunteer resources professional is to be able to identify what is reasonable to expect volunteers to handle and what is not reasonable or smart.  Having a solid working relationship with the risk management director will help you in identifying and justifying those opportunities when it really is not appropriate to have volunteers handling some duties and tasks. 

Departmental policies and procedures are the smart choice to keep bad things from happening.   I am reminded of the best approach to risk management that sticks with me:  “Think about the worst thing that could happen in your organization.  Then write a policy on how it should be handled.”  The relationship you have with the risk management director will help in this endeavor as they can also provide insight for your department policies and procedures.

We often deal with all sorts of issues/people/situations and problems.  While we are often the only one in our organization doing the work, we don’t have to do it alone.  Make friends with the human resource director and the risk management director.

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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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