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

~November 2013~


Often I hear from colleagues that they struggle with organizational leadership.  I hear “I wish they would just trust me.”  “I am the subject matter expert.”  “I am the only volunteer administrator in the organization and I know my job…so why am I being questioned so much?”

I don’t think it’s because leadership or your supervisor does not trust you.  I do think that it’s because many do not understand what we do.  The field of volunteer administration has evolved so much over time that we spend our time trying to keep up with trends, research, and demands (the list goes on and on).  With that said, leadership, supervisors, or other staff members in your organization are just trying to grasp what “dealing with volunteers” means.

We are constantly challenged and questioned and we have to explain everything over and over, again and again.  It’s exhausting.  We then feel that we are not doing a good job, often a bad job and then wonder why the heck we even got into this field to begin with. Breathe.

Here are some ideas to support YOU and the great work you are doing with volunteers.  Remember – you are NOT alone.

I. Poll other colleagues for support.

    A. What are they doing in your situation?

    B. How often are they in front of leadership so the organization understands the role of volunteers and most importantly YOUR role

II. Read the latest and greatest trends, journal articles, research

    A. Do you have the following on your reading list?

    1. Independent Sector

    2. Volunteer Today

    3. Energize, Inc.

    4. International Journal of Volunteer Administration

    5. The Nonprofit Times

    6. Idealist

III. Where are you going for professional development opportunities?

    1. Volunteermatch.com offers free webinars

    2. Join local organizations just for volunteer administrators

    a. Most of the time, membership fees are relatively inexpensive

    3. Join social media sites such as LinkedIn

IV. Take the opportunity during one-on-one meetings with leadership or your supervisor to educate them about what you are doing and why you are doing it

V. Get on the agenda during leadership meetings even if it’s just to provide three short bullet points about what is going on in your department and with volunteers

    1. Make your presence known

    2. Stay visible

We are not often called to the table.  But we deserve to have a seat at the table to contribute to decision making because your volunteers permeate throughout the organization and you need to part of the planning process. 

Not just a second thought. rockky

Remember . . . “Life’s not about how hard of a hit you can give . . . it’s about how many you can take, and still keep moving forward.”  - Sylvester Stallone, Rocky

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*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 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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