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

~ May 2013~


Well, by now most you survived your volunteer recognition ceremonies.  KUDOS to a job well  done.  After coming off of such a grand affair, you may have feelings and questions of “now what do I do?” or “now what?”  When you plan and organize down to the very last detail and your event is a SUCCESS, it’s hard to think of what you need to do next.

In the midst of chaos (we love it and hate it), we don’t have time to think about “what’s next” because, like Nike, we just do it.  But someone recommended that I go back to the basics. When I asked what this meant, she suggested to get back to what we do and what we should be doing well. Stop taking on so much for other people. green board

To put in sports terms for baseball (‘tis the season), when you have a lot going on both on and off the field and errors are made, you have to get back to the basics.  This means, back to practicing basic and routine plays, fielding, and batting.  Don’t make things too fancy by trying to hit home runs.  Aim for getting on base and bringing runners home.

So, how does this translate into volunteer administration and management practices?  Get back to where we need to be with the basics when things start spiraling into a whirlwind.  By this, I mean recruiting, interviewing, placing, and recognizing volunteers.

What is it that you do well?  Trim the excess workload and get back to your priorities.  We are getting too lost these days with everything that everyone else wants YOU to do.  But it’s not good for your volunteer department and your programs.  The volunteers (and you) are the ones who suffer.

Get back to the basics

  1. What is working well?  Keep doing it.
  2. What needs improvement?  Practice.
  3. What is not needed now?  Put it on hold. 

No one is telling you (in theory) how to run your department.  You are the expert.  All those extra committees and meetings and events and fundraisers – is it taking away from your department and focus? 
For my department, we are scaling back and getting back to the basics.  We’re trimming the excess workload that is doing more harm than good.  We’re re-evaluating programs and assignments and doing what is best for our volunteers and our clientele. 

It’s not a bad thing to go back to the basics.  We do hit the home runs, but then the expectation is set to hit home runs every time. 
Take a deep breath.  Practice what you know.  Scale back. 

blue line


*The author of the Federal Government Volunteer Programs page is melissa.heinlein@va.gov, MA, MS, CAVS. Melissa Heinlein-Storti is the Chief, 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 member of the Delaware Valley of Association for Volunteer Administration.  She is a member of the Pennsylvania Society of Directors of Volunteers in Healthcare, Inc. and held positions as education chair (state and local), vice-president (state), and member-at-large).  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 AHVRP. She is currently a doctoral candidate with her PhD in Human Development at Marywood University. She also contributed to the first textbook on volunteer administration.  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.

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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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