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Training Volunteers and Professional Development

The Training page for Volunteer Today has historically focused on tips for trainers. Each issue will now have information on some aspect of professional development for managers of volunteers and some articles on how to be a better trainer of volunteers. The author of this page, Nancy Macduff, is open to ideas and suggestions from readers on what might be useful information in the area of professional development. You can email her at: mba@bmi.net

~ September 2011 ~

EDUCATING FOR HARMONY: ENGAGING THE PAID STAFF AND THE VOLUNTEERS

By Susan J. Ellis, Energize, Inc

ellisphotoSusan Ellis is an international trainer, consultant, and writer on all things volunteer administration. Learn more about Susan at her web site Energize, Inc.

 

Is it possible to replace or supplant employees with volunteers when budgets are cut? 
This question makes us all cringe. But economic crisis is a teachable moment, with the potential to educate everyone about smart engagement of volunteers.

The best advice?  Plan for volunteers when times are good if you want their help in times of crisis.   Crisis is the worst time for an organization to begin to involve volunteers.  This reinforces the notion that volunteers are a temporary band-aid and is sure to be met with staff resistance to volunteer help just when they themselves are coping with an increased workload.  Further, it is hard to sound sincere to the public about welcoming their help when recruiting in desperation.

In general, it is next to impossible to fill a gap left by a full-time employee with a single, qualified and available volunteer.  Instead it would require an intricate schedule of several volunteers, each giving a certain number of hours per week and each bringing the organization a different set of qualifications. Take all the concerns of "job sharing" and multiply them several fold!

You can facilitate a meaningful discussion of the best way to handle the real problem of forced lay-offs.   Convene the appropriate people for several hours to do the following, in sequence. 

  • Carefully review the job descriptions of the entire staff, both those who have left and those remaining. (For a large organization, this exercise may need to be done unit by unit.) This means doing a task analysis of the way things really work in the organization, not just what was put on paper in the distant past.  For each position, answer these questions:  What activities is this person doing.
  • Once a week or periodically, rather than daily or on an inflexible schedule?
  • That really does not require his or her specialized training? (For example, a caseworker may spend a lot of time away from clients finding referral information – telephone calls, Internet searches – or a librarian might be diverted from core work by changing the book displays and bulletin boards.)
  • That might be done more effectively by someone else with more specialized training in that skill?
  • Rewrite the job descriptions for the staff still employed:

    arrows Maintain all the tasks that require daily attention, special training, etc., adding the similar critical responsibilities that had been assigned to the laid-off staff members. 

    arrows Remove the periodic or less technical responsibilities to make room for the essential activities just added

You end up with the remaining employees now tasked primarily with the most vital, daily functions.   The activities you removed then become the basis for legitimate volunteer position descriptions. You will be asking volunteers to handle important work that can be done on a once-a-week basis or that makes use of special talents for which the volunteers have been recruited.  But there is still one more part of the exercise:

  • Carefully review all current volunteer assignments and ask:  Are these the most essential things we need right now? 
  • Weigh the list of tasks you’ve just culled from the employees against what volunteers are doing and make choices. 
  • Of course include volunteers in this deliberation.  You can assume that they want to be of the greatest help and will be proud to be seen as part of keeping the organization afloat

This approach to the unfortunate need to trim the budget is therefore good management of both paid and volunteer staff.   The organization is paying for the best utilization of its employees and will attract volunteers in its support.   

In a true financial crisis, your mission comes first.  It is legitimate to share information about the emergency situation with current and potential volunteers and to ask for their help.  You are likely to get it.  The key is honest and open communication about the plans to hold things together until new funding can be found.  Solicit everyone’s ideas for how to operate in the crisis.  Set a timeline for reassessing how things are going and, perhaps, for when to throw in the towel.  Volunteers are a vital part of transitioning to a more effective, fully-funded organization but they cannot be expected to carry the load indefinitely. 

Most important, always remember that volunteers are your most effective advocates for funding your work.  Especially in a crisis, make sure you are asking volunteers to be spokespeople with legislators, donors, and other funders.  Raising more money and having great volunteers are mutually compatible goals.

See Who Made This Issue Possible

Thank You Page


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Professional Development

Ideas, theories, information, and training for those who manage the work of volunteers



Online Training for Directors of Volunteer Programs

blue dot Recruiting Volunteers

Fall September 26, 2011

  • Want to improve and organize your recruiting efforts?
  • Plan a recruiting campaign with a volunteer recruiting team.

Beginning in September the Volunteer Engagement and Leadership Program (VELP) offers the online course, Recruitment of Volunteers (8 weeks) ain conjunction with the School of Public Administration’s Institute for Nonprofit Studies and the Department of Extended Studies.  The class is part of a series that leads to certification in Volunteer Administration and can be taken pass/fail or for college credit. Recruitment of Volunteers engages students in a marketing approach to the recruitment of volunteers.  Interactive activities involve students in practical discussions of the different styles of volunteering—traditional and episodic; building a recruiting plan, advertising and promotion for volunteers, and the organization of a volunteer recruiting team. Assignments in all classes are interactive and designed to build skills directly applicable to a manager of volunteers program.  Assignments can be used immediately in existing volunteer programs. 

For more information on the program visit: http://distancedegree.pdx.edu//programs/v_engagement.php


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Portland State University Training for Managers of Volunteer Programs

Institute for Nonprofit Management

Department of Extended Studies

Volunteer Engagement and Leadership Program

 

Portland State University’s Volunteer Engagement and Leadership certificate program offers classes all semesters throughout the year. Recruiting volunteers is the first class in a series of six courses and covers the organization of the recruitment effort. It includes the impact of societal changes on volunteering, practical strategies for organizing recruiting include conducting needs assessments, strategic planning, and position descriptions. There is also information on the basics of marketing in the volunteer arena, advertising and promotions, screening and the utilization of volunteer recruiting teams.

The third and fourth classes in the series are Leadership and Communication in Volunteer Programs and Supervision and Management of Volunteers. These classes engage students in analysis of personal leadership styles, techniques to resolve conflicts, supervision types, and essential elements of managing a volunteer program. These classes begin in March 2011.

Class is fully online

x For registration assistance phone (503)725-4822 or Toll Free: (800) 547-8887 ask for ext. 4822

x Online contact: http://www.extended.pdx.edu/degrcomp/programs/v_engagement.php

GENERAL INFORMATION

Portland State University’s Institute for Nonprofit Management and the Department of Extended Studies have partnered to offer an educational series designed to build your volunteer program to standards of excellence and provide professional development for you.

Volunteers are engaged in programs and projects around the world in new and exciting ways.  Recruiting and organizing them is art and science. This new program teaches you cutting edge strategies to engage volunteers.

The Volunteer Engagement and Leadership Program (VELP) offers two formats to educate professionals and others on how to successfully engage and lead volunteers.  Formats provide hands-on practical exercises and experiences for learners at all levels to enhance their work with volunteers.

Learning Option 1 - Online course in Volunteer Engagement and Leadership-Students from around the world engage in first class instructions from seasoned veterans in the organization of a volunteer program.  Topics include recruiting, screening, planning, marketing, supervision, evaluation, and recognition, to name a few.  This is an asynchronous class. For more information visit the PSU Web site.
http://www.extended.pdx.edu/degrcomp/programs/v_engagement.php

Learning Option 2 - Online learning is not for everyone, so the Institute for Nonprofit Management provides the same content as the online course, but in a face-to-face format.  Visit the INPM Web site for more detailed information on the open enrollment Institute or one tailored to a single group. http://www.extended.pdx.edu/degrcomp/programs/v_engagement_training.php


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A TIP A DAY ON MANAGING VOLUNTEERS

Interested in quick tips on recruiting, coaching, communication, record keeping for your volunteer program.  Follow Volunteer Today publisher and editor, Nancy Macduff on Twitter.  She is posting quick ideas each workday on Twitter about the administration of volunteers.  Check out this new quick resource on Twitter at NLMacduff.  It is the VERY abbreviated form of Volunteer Today.

Nancy is seeking tips, hints, ideas, comments on things related to the management and administration of volunteers.  You can leave a Tweet on the Twitter site or email Nancy at mba@bmi.net.  The tip cannot be longer than 140 spaces or characters. 

REMEMBER: Followers on Twitter can set their profile on privacy to avoid getting unwanted Tweets.  Also, you must pick up Tweets, they do not pop up like your email.  Make it a bookmark on your computer.  Yes, you can Twitter from your computer,  you do not need a smart phone!

If you have not used this social media form of communication and would like to learn how to use it for future communication with volunteers, this is a good way to practice.  Tell the people in your organization and your colleagues in the community about this new site, exclusively for those who coordinate the work of volunteers.


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JOURNAL FOR DIRECTORS OF VOLUNTEER PROGRAMS

The International Journal of Volunteer Administration is a practitioner journal grounded in solid scholarship in the field of volunteerism, but with practical advice for those who manage volunteers.

The Journal is a refereed publication of the North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC, USA. The IJOVA seeks to provide an exchange of ideas and a sharing of knowledge and insights about volunteerism and volunteer management and administration, both in North America and internationally.

The Journal is a not-for-profit service of the Department and North Carolina State University that seeks to connect practitioners, academicians, and consultants in greater service to the global volunteer community and the professionals who lead it.

The IJOVA is governed by a six-member Editorial Board representing the three predominant genres of volunteer management professionals: (a) practicing managers of volunteers, (b) consultants, and (c) academicians focusing upon volunteer management and administration. Three Board members represent the United States while one member each represents Canada, Mexico, and Europe.

Subscriptions are a modest $40. for the electronic journal. For more information and to read six issues for free go to the IJOVA Web site.


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AL!VE SEEKS MEMBERS


The Association of Leaders in Volunteer Engagement (AL!VE) is a national organization that supports and advocates for professionals in the field of volunteer management.  Membership is diverse cross section of professionals who are managers, directors, trainers, and consultants committed to the engagement of volunteers.

You can learn more about AL!VE at their Web site.  http://www.volunteeralive.org There is information on the board of directors, resources, newsletter, and committees.  It is now possible to join the organization online as it moves forward in its development. 


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Certified in Volunteer Administration (CVA)

Volunteer Today encourages mangers of volunteers to enhance their skills and effectiveness on the job through a variety of educational opportunities. Experienced managers of volunteers can highlight that skill achievement by seeking the Certified in Volunteer Administration (CVA) endorsement. The Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration (CCVA) advances the profession and practice of volunteer resource management by certifying individuals who demonstrate knowledge and competence in the leadership of volunteers. Certified in Volunteer Administration (CVA) is an international credential awarded to practitioners with at least 3 years of experience who successfully complete an exam and written portfolio process. Originally developed by the Association for Volunteer Administration (AVA) several decades ago, the credentialing program is now sponsored by the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration. For detailed information visit their Web site at: http://www.cvacert.org.


COLLEGE PROGRAMS ON NONPROFIT AND VOLUNTEER MANAGEMENT

Close to 300 colleges and universities offer academic programs on nonprofit and volunteer sector management. They are usually master's degree programs, but not always. American Humanics sponsors undergraduate programs, as well. If you are looking to push out the professional development window, consider taking a course at one of these colleges. A full list resides at http://tltc.shu.edu/npo/. Thanks to Roseanne Mirabella, of Seton Hall University for keeping up with this list

book cover

Available through the Volunteer Today Bookstore


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