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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.

~October 2013 ~



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         Managing volunteers includes considering the risks to the volunteer, the organization, the person or thing being served, and to the larger community.  Most organizations are working toward protecting all these stakeholders from the common types of physical risk.  It is also important to consider the risks related to money.
         Many volunteers handle money for gift shops, events, sales of memorabilia, and the like.  Here are some risk management questions to insure that you are taking steps to protect everyone who deals with money or fiduciary issues.

  • If you are running an organization, are the appropriate audit controls established and enforced?  For example, two signatures on all checks and no exceptions. This is true for large event committees.
  • Are the volunteer positions that deal with money rotated on a regular basis?  Keeping the same person in a position indefinitely is not good management and has the potential to invite problems.
  • If cash or checks are handled by a volunteer, are they deposited immediately?  Establish systems to get money into a secure location as quickly as possible.  It might mean deposit slips and bank envelopes for weekend deposits, but better than the trunk of a car.
  • If you use a safe for money, is it fire resistant?
  • Are the premises where cash is kept secure?
  • Do you establish volunteer responsibilities so no one person controls the entire process—receiving money, registering deposits, withdrawals, and balancing the accounts?  By dividing up the duties you automatically build in a check and balance system for dealing with cash. 

Recent cases across the world show that voluntary and nonprofit organizations are not immune from the skullduggery of unscrupulous people.

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        orange star Frequent recognition of the efforts of volunteers is one key to success in managing volunteers.  Most managers are fine with the “big” stuff—certificates, National Volunteer Day celebrations, the luncheon, the picnic, or big potluck supper.  It is the day-to-day recognition however, that is most often cited by volunteers as being the most meaningful.  Here are a few tips to add to your bag of recognition ideas.

  • Put 5 pennies in a pocket each day.  As you offer recognition on a personal level, transfer those pennies to another pocket or to a jar on your desk.  It seems like a corny notion, but doing it regularly might provide some extra $ for the next vacation or shopping trip.  And it is a tangible reminder of your efforts at recognition.
  • At the end of the day when the brain cells are struggling to make sense of anything write short appreciate notes to volunteers or paid staff who are especially effective working with volunteers. 
  • On any trip to a bookstore or place like Target or Wal-Mart, look for postcards that are on sale.  Use them for the special thank you notes.  Not expensive, cute pictures, and loved by those who receive them.
  • Do you make a weekly or daily to do list?  Put those people who deserve recognition on that list.  Cross off names as you praise or acknowledge their work.
  • Stuck in traffic often?  Use your cell phone to give thanks to volunteers.  Keep a phone list in the car and call their work number, so when they arrive at work the next day, the first message heard is one thanking them for being a volunteer. Never use cell phone when care is moving!!!



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