VolunteerToday.com ~~ The Electronic Gazette for Volunteerism

~ September 2001 ~
  • Tell Your Volunteers' Stories
  • The Volunteer Exit Interview
  • Building the Volunteer Team
  • The Bad News Nightmare
  • Conference on Volunteer Administration To Convene in Toronto, Canada

There is grief throughout the world for those lost and injured by terrorist attacks. But, there are also thanks for outpourings of love, condolence, sympathy, and encouragement from family, friends and neighbors from Sri Lanka to Sydney to Sacramento, and Sweden.

"Now let us thank the Eternal Power: convinced
That Heaven but tries our virtue by affliction.
That oft the cloud which wraps the present hour
Serves but to brighten all our future days."
John Brown 1715-1766

Tell Your Volunteers' Stories

A "newish" site on the Web, http://www.VolunteerStories.com, is a perfect site for a unique form of recognition. Volunteers can post stories about their volunteer experiences for the entire globe to read. There is an archive of stories and a place to submit stories. Also on this site is a place to list volunteer positions.

Get volunteers to submit short vignettes about their volunteer experience and then submit one per month. You can make hot links from your organization's site to Volunteer Stories, and announce those stories that are used each month. A great way to get your story out and recognize the work of volunteers at the same time.

Listing your volunteer positions also makes it possible for readers to read those great stories and then link to your site to sign on as a volunteer.

The Volunteer Exit Interview

Volunteers who provide service in long term positions, more than one year, should be interviewed when they leave the organization. Talking to departing volunteers provides information to help retain current ones. Here are some tips, including some questions, to help you manage the exit interview for a volunteer:





 Question:  Excellent............................. Poor
.....1.................... 3.................... 5
1. How would you rate the quality of the assignment in the area in which you worked?    
2. How would you rate the supervision of your work?    
3. How would you rate the relationship you had with paid staff?    
4. How would you rate the relationship you had with other volunteers?    
5. How would you rate the relationship you had with clients?    
6. How would you rate your comfort in fitting in to the culture of our organization?    
7. How did the position description reflect what you actually did when volunteering?    
8. Did the training provide the necessary information for you to do the task for which you had been recruited?    
9. Was the recognition you received for your work adequate?    

Building the Volunteer Team

Volunteer programs are most successful when everyone feels part of a team. Here are some tips to help you build the successful volunteer team.

The Bad News Nightmare

A long time volunteer has provided service to the financial side of a nonprofit. You discover they have embezzled thousands of dollars. The first person to find this out has to tell others-the director of the program, the Board president, and the list goes on. This is the nightmare everyone wishes and prays will never happen to them. The fact is those who work with volunteers must, on occasion, deliver bad news. Here are some hints to help deliver it with a chance for the best results.

 Think about the image that you want to create.
Imagine yourself presenting the bad news but leaving the person to whom you are reporting with the idea that you are in control, honest, and willing to acknowledge errors. Then present yourself and your information with an eye to creating that image.

 Keep it impersonal.
Bad news can sometimes cause negative reactions in the recipient. The person, for example, might become defensive or hostile. One way to reduce that reaction is by choosing words and descriptions that are impersonal and non-threatening.

 Have your facts intact.
When there is bad news be prepared, or better yet, be over prepared to answer any and all questions. Run through the list of who, what, why, where, when, and how much. If you can answer those fully, chances are you will appear to have the situation under control.

 Be solutions oriented.
Go into the meeting with the beginning of a plan for how to remedy the situation or ameliorate its negative impact on the organization. Solicit the input of the person to whom you report, but let them know you are already thinking about how to fix it.

 Reward a positive response.
When you unload a bomb and are supported, even in the smallest fashion, by the person to whom you report, reward them with a thank you. "Thanks so much for not shooting the messenger." "I really appreciate your reaction to this and your support of my efforts to solve the problem."

Conference on Volunteer Administration To Convene in Toronto, Canada
Workshops, Speakers Appeal to New and Experienced Volunteer Administrators

The international Association for Volunteer Administration will hold its annual conference, Oct. 3-6 at the downtown Sheraton Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Based on the theme "Mosaic 2001," the conference will offer a variety of speakers, workshops and networking opportunities with particular focus on diversity, technology, partnership and professionalism. Highlights of the conference include:

There will be a discount on the conference registration fee through Aug. 24. To request a registration booklet, call 804.346.2266, write to AVA at avaintl@mindspring.com or P.O. Box 32092, Richmond, VA 23294 USA. Visit http://www.avaintl.org for information.



Washington State University offers a Volunteer Management Certification Program through the Internet. Individuals around the world can earn a certificate in managing or coordinating volunteers, without leaving home.

For more information, visit Volunteer Today's Portal site, Internet Resources. Look for the Washington State University listing. There is a hot link to their Web site.


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. NAAVPLG 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 Glenis Chapin, who is a member of the Executive Committee. She can be reached by phone at 503-588-7990. Be sure to mention you read about this in Volunteer Today.

Copyright 2001 by Nancy Macduff.

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