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

~May 2014~

Back to the Basics – Part 2

raised hands


Creating volunteer opportunities

Once you have completed the process of understanding why you want volunteers, the next hurdle is creating meaningful volunteer opportunities.  You begin by knowing your needs and then designing volunteer assignments that are demanding, creative and/or sophisticated. Doing this  attracts the kind of person you want.  Criteria for appropriate positions should include the following:

  • The position meets the needs of the organization
  • All risk management and liability issues can be addressed
  • Volunteers are available to do the task
  • The amount of training required for volunteers to perform the task is reasonable.

One option for creating meaning volunteer opportunities is an exercise taken from Ivan Schier.

  • Have appropriate staff members make a list that includes the tasks and duties that the staff member really enjoys and likes to do. 
  • Then have the staff member make another list that includes the tasks and duties that the staff member doesn’t necessarily like or enjoy doing, but they still must be done. 
  • Finally, have the staff member make a list of the things the staff member would really like to do or get done for the organization, but there never seems to be time to devote to the effort to get it accomplished.
  • Once you have your three lists, see what parts and pieces from each list can be put together to create a meaningful volunteer opportunity.  Remember, just because the staff member may not like to do a particular task or duty doesn’t mean that someone else might not be interested in doing it.

After meaningful opportunities have been identified, it’s time to begin recruitment efforts.  These can be individual, targeted or non-targeted. Let me explain.

An individual recruitment effort is a “one-on-one” ask.  You know someone who has the skills needed for the assignment, and you ask them.

Targeted recruitment specifies the skills you need and then targets the audience with those skills to find people willing to volunteer their time to meet your needs.  Here’s an example:  If you’re looking for individuals with accounting experience to help seniors file taxes, look to the local professional association for accountants.  This is a place to recruit.

 Non-targeted recruitment is what can be considered mass recruitment.  This is basically a call to action for anyone.  Consequently, you are only limited by your imagination as to how to get the word out to the masses. 

3 concentrate circlesOne method of recruitment to consider is the circle of influence as illustrated here. 

No matter how the recruitment effort takes place, your recruitment message should include three short sentences.  The first sentence describes what you need (be specific).  The second sentence illustrates how volunteers can help with the need.  The third sentence should detail what intrinsic reward the volunteer will receive


Next month: Interviewing and why it’s important.


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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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