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


~January 2013~



Everyone always asks for retention strategies.  A 1998 study by the UPS Foundation found that two out of five volunteers stopped giving time to an organization with poor volunteer management practices.  So it is important that those of us in a position of leadership with volunteers understand the unspoken message here.  In my mind, the best retention strategy begins with some easy lessons on making the case for volunteer resources management.  There are some simple things to understand.

  1. Education – It is important for us to invest in ourselves enough to keep abreast of what is happening in the field of volunteer management. 
  2. Communication – It is crucial to have the opportunity for some face-time with supervisors, staff and board members.
  3. Celebrate – Make those around you aware of success stories and contribution of volunteers.
  4. Networking – Stay connected with those of us in this profession.  Join the local or state DOVIA chapter (acronym for manager of volunteers associations on the local level) to stay in touch with colleagues, sharing ideas, challenges and strategies.
  5. Expansion – Do not be afraid to get involved with volunteer efforts at all levels in your organization:  online, board members, corporate, service learning, skilled/pro bono, interns, etc.  Establish yourself as the staff expert on volunteer management and continue to be the resource for others.

So how does this relate to retention?  If your program is well run and you keep yourself please come back signimmersed and abreast of the volunteer management profession, that will be clearly evident to volunteers.  Your volunteers will feel appreciated, valued, doing meaningful work for your organization.  Doing these five simple things will circumvent the findings of the UPS Foundation study and place you well ahead in the business of retention.

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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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