VolunteerToday.com ~~ The Electronic Gazette for Volunteerism




Sometimes a volunteer manager takes a job, only to find a disintegrating volunteer corps, bad attitudes, and a lack of trust. Here are some tips to turn that boat right side up and get the sails drying in the wind.

  1. Be honest. Make clear to everyone that there are problems, but that if you all pull together things can be improved.
  2. Listen to the volunteers. Now is not the time for barking orders. Ask, "What can we do?" Avoid airing dirty linen. Stick to the future.
  3. Change people's roles. When times are tough, volunteers, like employees, get very territorial. Expand the volunteer advisory committee; ask people on the advisory committee to help out with the day-to-day tasks of the program.
  4. To keep on track you need constant evaluation. It is "How are we doing?" whenever you see a volunteer, but it is also more formal and anonymous forms of assessment.
  5. Celebrate every volunteer and their contribution. This should be done publicly and often.
  6. No matter what, keep your sense of humor. If things are bad, tape your favorite comedy TV show or movie. Watch it until you are laughing really hard.
  7. Start your improvement program small. Pick one thing to fix. Select something that is sure to be a success. It paves the way for those harder changes ahead.
  8. Set personal goals to make changes. Involve a volunteer advisory group in doing the same. Be conservative in setting the goals. The program did not capsize in an instant and it will not get better that way, either.
  9. Recruit volunteers with data and computer savvy. Tell them you need them to record progress. Create volunteer records and reports that show progress. Then write reports to administrators, volunteers, clients or members that tell about the results of the work.
  10. Be willing to experiment and learn from failures
  11. Work at constantly revising the plan to improve the volunteer program.
  12. Keep a "joy journal." Every day write down something good that happened in the volunteer program. Read it on those days when you are ready to quit!


Steve McCurley and Sue Vineyard author Grapevine, a publication for volunteer managers. Steve gathers a large array of statistics, data, and reports on volunteering. The numbers are interesting for the information they provide about working with volunteers. Here is a sample of information from the Nov/Dec. issue.

  1. 81% of teenagers believe companies have a responsibility to support social causes and groups
  2. 95% of teens want companies to tell them about their cause initiatives.
  3. A study by the Urban Institute shows that those who earn less give more.
  4. In a survey of USA state governments volunteer programs have an interesting track record in using standard management practices:

a. 48% of state agencies or departments have a volunteer manager responsible for the volunteer program
b. 39% used position descriptions for volunteers
c. 33% had a formal orientation for volunteers
d. 25% provide training for employees in working with volunteers
e. 48% provided recognition for volunteers

5. In Scotland a new survey provides data on volunteering

a. 19% of the population volunteer
b. 20% of women and 18% of men volunteer
c. Highest level of volunteering is among self-employed people (28%)
d. Church/religious organizations attracted 23% of volunteer service
e. Working with young people was done by 22%
f. More information on this at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/shs/docs/shs4-06.asp.

~According to a Harvard study 59.5% of college students have volunteered in the last year.~


If your organization has volunteers who assist with fund-raising, here are some tips on raising money online. It starts with an e-newsletter.


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.

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Copyright 2001 by Nancy Macduff.

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