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ASK CONNIE

VT readers ask questions about volunteer management and administration. Ask Connie, an experienced volunteer manager, consultant and trainer, provides the answers for all to see.
Send questions to AskConnieP@cs.com

~ September 2005 ~ Topics

Dear Readers:

Planning ahead for your recognition budget? Then mark these dates on your calendar for upcoming National Volunteer Weeks:

  • 2006 - April 23 - 29
  • 2007 - April 15 - 21
  • 2008 - April 27 - May 3
  • 2009 - April 19 - 25
  • 2010 - April 18 - 24

Dear Connie:

I need help with my board giving me money for appreciation. I am very frugal, but I want my more than 100 volunteers to know how much they are appreciated. Do you think that asking for a line item of $600 per year is outrageous? Please give me some guidance.

Julie

Dear Julie:

Having a budget for volunteer appreciation is an important component of effective volunteer management. While volunteers always like to be thanked for their hard work, time, and talents, they also enjoy a fun and meaningful token of appreciation. Doing the math, it seems to me that spending $6 per volunteer (100 volunteers x $6 = $600) isn't inappropriate.

I think the important thing for the board to understand is HOW you'll spend the money wisely and effectively for the volunteers. You might also frame the appreciation in terms of the fact that $600 is not much money "to pay" a staff of 100. This cost/benefit approach is often very meaningful for board members.

National Volunteer Week is a perfect time to show appreciation. In 2006, it will be on April 23 - 29. You could plan a simple event that involved staff and volunteers to show appreciation. Or you could purchase small tokens of appreciation and send them to all volunteers. For example, when I actively managed volunteers every year I sent something out during National Volunteer Week. One year I purchased small tops (the kind you spin with your fingers on a tabletop) for less than $.50 each and wrote a note thanking volunteers for being "a top volunteer." Another year I purchased small packages of note cards and thanked them for being “volunteers of note.” You get the idea.


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Dear Connie:

I’m trying to find some advice to give to our chapters about how to do a volunteer needs inventory. Our chapters responded to a survey that their main concern is a lack of volunteers. One of the first things we would like for chapter presidents to do is to discover the skills and talents they already have within their chapters. Do you have any ideas for the questions, procedures, and/or forms that I can use?

S.T.

Dear S.T.:

I worked for a national organization for 10 years, and we utilized volunteers from across the U.S. as trainers, facilitators, and public speakers. I developed an application form that you could easily adapt for your use. The categories of information that I sought were:

  • Contact information (name, address, email, fax, emergency contact, etc.)
  • Educational background (degrees earned, major areas studied)
  • Professional background (employer(s), type of work, address, phone, email, fax, etc.)
  • Volunteer background (organization(s), type of volunteering, years, offices held, etc.)
  • Skills (specific skills that your chapters are seeking—data entry, public speaking, etc.)
  • Availability (weekdays, weekends, nights, etc.)

I compiled the information in a simple database so that it was always handy for placement of the volunteers.



Do you have a question? Now you too can ask an expert!

Connie Pirtle, of Strategic NonProfit-Resources, has 15 years' experience in working with volunteers. She has consulted and/or trained for such organizations as the Washington National Cathedral, Anchorage Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Music America, and the Association for Volunteer Administration.

Send your questions to Connie at AskConnieP@cs.com.
Connie Pirtle
Strategic Nonprofit Resources
10103 Edward Avenue * Bethesda, MD 20814 * VOICE: 301-530-8233 * FAX: 301-530-8299


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