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On this page are ideas to help you work more efficiently with volunteers. There are tips on recruiting, engaging, coordinating, and managing the work of volunteers.

~August 2012 ~




Time to sign up for college all online class that combines practical and theoretical content to help you be more effective at recruiting.  An eight week class designed to build an effective recruiting plan.

Recruitment of Volunteers September 24 – November 18

Recruitment of Volunteer (8 weeks)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: http://distancedegree.pdx.edu//programs/v_engagement.php

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Elections season has been in gear for more than a year, but it will heat to temperatures in the stratosphere as the US heads to November elections for everything from county commissioner to US President.  Volunteer just might be itching to voice opinions and cite his/her connection to your organization.  The rules of advocacy are clear and volunteers need to know when their “opinions” step over the line into politicking.  Here are some things to do to keep everything on the up-and-up

-dot with swirl Get volunteers to help in preparing “fact” sheets based on research that tells your story.  If a candidate were to ask an organization to expend staff time in conducting or preparing research reports, it might be construed as a campaign contribution.  Reports prepared for distribution need to go to all candidates.word influence
dot with swirlNever endorse a candidate.  No ranking, checklists or the like should be sent to volunteers or others. It is ok to publish voting records, however.
dot with swirlAsk volunteers if they would like a candidate forum and then invite everyone who is running.
dot with swirlCandidates can be invited separately to visit the organization.  You can even post these on your Web site.  Just be sure everyone running has been invited and is represented in photos.
dot with swirlNever bash candidates on a social media site. 
dot with swirlNo money to candidates from the organization.
 dot with swirlNever allow a candidate to use resources of the organization, even if they have been a long time volunteer.

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Volunteerism Research:  A Review Essay”
John Wilson
Nonprofit and Volunteer Sector Quarterly
beginning April 2012

An article by John Wilson in the journal of the Association for Research on Nonprofits and Voluntary Action, the Nonprofit and Volunteer Sector Quarterly, carried a review of research on various aspects of volunteering.  For the next several months the results of his review in a variety of areas related to volunteerism will appear in Volunteer Today.  Many university libraries have the electronic version of this journal.

Information on volunteering and gender

  1. In the US women volunteer more than men
  2. Gender often dictates the work done by men and women. 
  3. In youth sports men are usually the coaches, while women do more nurturing tasks like providing snacks, making phone calls,
  4. A study in rural communities in Iowa that engages volunteers in tourist attractions; women “help out” because it is their “nature.”
  5. Men who work on breast cancer awareness campaigns are held up as “heros,” while such work is expected of women, who do not receive the same fanfare.

Information on race and volunteering

  1. The influence of race on volunteer is a troublesome issue.  Some US studies, adjusted for income level, show whites volunteering at the highest percentages, with Hispanic/Latinos at the lowest.  However, a study by Taniguchi (2011) shows no net effect on volunteering.
  2. The US is unique in gathering information on volunteering as related to race or ethnicity. Not done by most other countries.
  3. Studies in the United Kingdom of whites and black Africans showed no difference between 2006 and 2009 in rates of volunteering.

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Everyone seems to be screening every volunteer using the criminal records background check.  But, what information are you seeking?  Is it the same for all volunteers?  Here are some tips to get the most from those records.fingerprint

List position descriptions for all positions (and do not forget the Board of Directors!) and next to the position list what type of conviction would compromise security or cause a public relations nightmare.

Assess each position and determine which of those might compromise the workplace or environment where volunteer is providing service.  Example, a recent conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol means a position requiring the use of car or machinery is not appropriate.

Consider when the offense occurred.  A 20 year old DUI conviction never is as important as one from six months ago.

Set up criteria for judging convictions that applies to everyone. This removes any accusation of bias.  Get volunteers and paid staff involved in finalizing this criteria.

Know your state laws about gathering this information and its use.

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