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This page is devoted to the management of volunteer programs run by state agencies, including information for parks, natural resources and social and health programs.

~ June 2007 ~ Topics

Checked Your Web Site Lately?

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Checked Your Web Site Lately?

Most, if not all, volunteer programs in state or provincial government are imbedded in a department. It might be the social service agencies or parks, but the parent organization generally has a Web site that includes information on volunteer opportunities. 47% of today's volunteers report making their initial contact for a volunteer job online. The Web is the usual place for that to occur.

Managers of volunteers in state and provincial agencies and departments need to request the maximum visibility at the starting place or home page of the organization. Remember the three-click rule of Web surfing - if you can't find it in three clicks, the Web surfer is gone to another site. And the program might have missed an opportunity to recruit a volunteer.

In a totally unscientific survey, the author of this article visited the Web sites of several states and provinces to attempt finding information on volunteering. Here are some of those findings.

    1. Delaware- (USA) The only mention of volunteering was in relationship to a marshlands program on the main page for the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. A further study-we are now at about four clicks-led the surfer to the education listing (in a pull down menu) and behold there was a listing for volunteering. http://www.dnrec.delaware.gov/
    2. Saskatchewan- (Canada) The Saskatchewan Parks site is filled with information on camping and the like, but no direct link to volunteers seemed readily apparent. A trip to "other links" led to listings of commercial ventures connected to the parks in some way. A third click to Programs led to a hot link for volunteer opportunities. By click four the page with information on volunteering appeared. http://www.se.gov.sk.ca/saskparks/ParkInfo/
    3. Queensland- (Australia) Apparently there are no volunteers affiliated with state programs. A search of several departments and agencies found no references to volunteering for state government. One site did urge people to volunteer in their community as a method of promoting ultimate "mateship." But, it was a challenge to find that.

The point of this research is to assess the visibility of your program from the home page to the application. Let someone unfamiliar try to find your application or information online. Get them to record the clicks, the missteps taken, and the frustration level.

Sharing information with your administration about the importance of visibility as an aid in recruitment is key to this endeavor. Back up your appeal for more visibility with facts from your own research. Look at sites where volunteer opportunities in state service are immediately visible and propose how your program can be the same.

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Terry Schroeder is a social worker at the Division of Children & Family Services in Bremerton, WA. She has worked for the department for 28 years, the last 20 working with volunteers in some capacity. She is also an avid volunteer, currently serving on three local non-profit boards and one advisory board. She can be contacted by calling: 360-475-3571 or emailing her at: thes300@dshs.wa.gov.

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