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

~ June 2013~


I recently attended a local conference sponsored by the Delaware Valley Association for Volunteer Administrators (DRAVA).   Of course, we know how valuable the networking can be when we attend any professional development activity.

What I found enlightening this time around was the topic about legal standards and practices.  In this session, the presenters discussed policy versus practice.  Do we have policies, a written document, which communicates what we practice in our world of volunteer administration? The practice is the standard approach to address an issue such as bringing on a new volunteer or (unfortunately) releasing a volunteer from their service.

With the summer here, now is a good time to review your policies.  If you are already doing this annually, KUDOS to you!

Some things to consider . . .

  • How up-to-date are you on the Volunteer Protection Act?  http://www.npccny.org/info/gti2.htm
  • Do you have a volunteer handbook?
  • How current are your policies and procedures?
  • Avoid the term job in your position descriptions
  • Do your employees also function as volunteers after hours in a different role than their paid job?
    • Are there clear standards of service?
  • How often are your assignments evaluated?
    • Do you obtain feedback from your volunteers?
  • What risk management processes do you have in place?
    • Such as screening all volunteer candidates, ensuring all new volunteers go through orientation, etc.
  • Do you have a policy on what volunteers can/cannot post on social media websites?
  • Do you have a policy about for volunteers separating from your organization?
  • Do you have a grievance process for your volunteers?
    • For example, why do the volunteers march right down to the Director’s office versus coming to you to discuss an issue?

These are just some things to consider when evaluating your program.  Like spring-cleaning, the summer is a good time to take a moment, review what you have in place, and prepare for the future.

*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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