VolunteerToday.com ~~ The Electronic Gazette for Volunteerism


Visit this page for ideas, suggestions and hints to build recruitment capacity.
~December 2001~
  • Selecting the Right Volunteer
  • Generosity in America
  • Tips to Corrective Action with Volunteers
  • Where are Seniors?

Selecting the Right Volunteer

It is the rare organization that is awash in volunteers. Most programs need more volunteers. Sometimes in the rush to bring on new people, the wrong person can be selected to volunteer. What is really needed is the motivated volunteer. How can you find that person? Here are three simple strategies:

Generosity in America

A poll by Independent Sector has found that 73% of Americans who made charitable gifts in response to the September 11 attacks say they will continue to give as much or more than they usually give to other charities. The poll indicates that most Americans are looking upon giving to September 11 charities as over and above normal charitable gifts. The study indicates that the greatest potential negative impact on charitable may be the overall economic slowdown. One in ten respondents indicated they will completely stop their giving and equal numbers said they will greatly reduce their giving if the economy worsens. More than 52% of the largest givers ($100,000) said an economic slowdown will have virtually no impact on their giving. Visit the Independent Sector site, http://www.independentsector.org/ , for the full report.

Tips to Corrective Action with Volunteers

Barbara was a good volunteer when she got to her assigned location. However, she often arrived at the facility on time, but made stops along the way to her assigned location, frequently disrupting other volunteers in the process. The volunteer manager has called Barbara's supervisor about her continued tardiness. The supervisor needs some help with corrective action. Here are some tips:

Tip 1:

Involve the volunteer.
Correcting behavior works best when the volunteer is involved in a civil dialogue. Engaging the person in the discussion about the less than helpful behavior is a good starting point. "Barbara, what is your understanding about the time you need to be reporting to the main desk?" That is better than, "You are late getting to the main desk."

Tip 2:

Avoid blame.
Training or education is a more effective corrective action than blame. Helping someone gain the skills or knowledge to change behavior is the first step to enhance performance. It is frequently given in terms that suggest solutions. "Well, if you must report by 3:00 p.m., what can we do to help that happen?"

Tip 3:

Keep emotions in check.
The best corrective action comes in a neutral done. If you are angry, it is best to wait until you are calm before discussing the corrective action. Negative emotions are contagious in a volunteer program. For example, the president elect of a sewing club overheard another member say the current president thought the incoming person was too timid to lead a meeting. The president-elect was so put off by this negative information that she resigned immediately, leaving the group with a vacuum in its leadership. Watch the angry words. . They are like feathers in a windstorm, you can never retrieve all of them.
Look to the future. Only spend 10% of your conversation with the volunteer on what happened in the past. Focus on the future. 90% of the conversation should be about how this will be improved or enhanced. "Oh, Barbara, I am so impressed with your plan to arrive at the main desk in a timely way. Is there anything I can do to help you with your plan?"

Where are Seniors?

Conventional wisdom says that seniors are in Florida and Arizona. Conventional wisdom is off the mark in this case. The new list of senior magnet states and cities is based on an analysis of the 2000 census. The West and South are experiencing the highest growth with seniors moving to small to medium size communities. It is striking to note that the greatest rise in elderly growth is in the suburbs.

The senior population of Nevada grew 70% from 1990, other states with 25% growth in seniors were Alaska, Arizona, New Mexico, Hawaii, Utah, and Colorado. Southern states registering faster growth than Florida (19% to 18%) were South Carolina, Texas, North Carolina and Georgia.

Cities with noticeable increases in seniors were Naples, FL, Myrtle Beach SC, Las Cruces, NM, and Flagstaff, AZ. University towns also seem to be attracting seniors. University towns like Austin, TX and Raleigh-Durham also seem to be attracting seniors.

Have you checked the changes in senior populations in your community? You might be surprised. Census data is available online at http://www.census.gov.


The Points of Light Foundation has forms available to nominate volunteers and volunteer organizations for the Daily Points of Light Award. It is designed recognize individuals and groups that demonstrate unique and innovative approaches to community volunteering and citizen action, with a strong emphasis on service focused on the goals for children and young people set by the Presidents Summit for American's Future.

The award is given five days a week, excluding holidays. If you would like nomination forms, contact Crystal Hill at 202-729-8000.


By calling 1-800-VOLUNTEER in the U.S., individuals can be connected to their local volunteer center.

This is a national interactive call routing system designed to get volunteers connected to people who can help them volunteer.

Copyright 2001 by Nancy Macduff.

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