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

~October 2009~


As I write October’s article, federal employees are nearing the end of our fiscal year – September 30, 2009.  We know this means finalizing and entering hours, donations if you accept them, and planning for your upcoming year.
So, what does this mean to administrators of volunteers for the new fiscal year?  What types of things will be asked (or required) to do in terms of additional paperwork for volunteers, special events, donations?  What new regulations will be upon us to ensure security and safety of our organizations, clientele, and volunteers?
We do have to remember that our bread and butter are our volunteers.  They are, remember, the heart of our organization.  With the Serve America Act and being a federal agency, my department is experiencing a tremendous increase of volunteer application requests, including requests from departments to assist with special projects. 

So, first – set goals. 
What do you want to accomplish this fiscal year? Make your outcomes measurable such as increase volunteer placements by 20%, increase donations by 5%, mail out 250 more volunteer applications.  Look at your numbers from the past two fiscal years – where are your numbers going?  What direction are you heading towards?  Do you need to do more recruitment?

Second - which direction is your department being pulled? 
I did a concept map to see what my department is doing and how much we are involved in.  As you notice (see below), there is a lot going out of the volunteer department, but not much coming in.  When you put everything down on paper, you WOW yourself by all that you do for your organization.

Third – learn to say NO.
What a hard thing to do.  But remember, your volunteers are your priority.  I received a call recently from a department who wanted to know if a volunteer could answer phones for three days while someone was out.  I respectfully responded that “We do not run a temp agency out of our office and volunteers are not freeze dried for convenience.  We would be happy to assist any department who plans in advance for their volunteer needs.”  Obviously, the receiver on the other end of my response was a soft “Oh.”  Be stern. Focus on your volunteers.  We have pulled back a bit in my department as our volunteers numbers are increasing.
There is only so much you can do.  There are piles of paperwork volunteers must complete because we are a federal agency. 

The new fiscal year almost feels like New Year’s as we start fresh and start with energy to only enhance the current work that we do. 

The author of the Federal Government Volunteer Programs page is melissa.heinlein@va.gov, MA, MS, CAVS. Melissa is the Chief of 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 current board member of the Delaware Valley of Association for Volunteer Administration and current member-at-large for PSDVS, Eastern Chapter. She serves as an advisor for a grassroots organization “Spark the Wave” to encourage youth volunteerism. 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 ASDVS. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Human Development at Marywood University. 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.


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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