March, 2004 -by Peter C.
This Month's topic:
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|This Month's Topic: Volunteers
Each month, this area provides with a
number of my favorite and most helpful sites regarding the topic of the month.
Tip of the Month
Each issue, I start with a discussion
of my perspective on the month's topic, and give you a few hands-on ideas to
Here, I provide you with my 2-3 best
recommendations on printed materials that can help you become more
mission-capable in the area of volunteers.
I provide you any good software
regarding the month's topic, and some suggested uses of the tech to better your
How does marketing effect volunteers? That
should be apparent, if not now, certainly after you finish reading this
In April, we'll look at issues surrounding
Websites of the
This section includes sites of interest on this
month's topic. I urge you to give each a look, as they often cover different
areas or have a different focus on the topic area..
|Helpful Websites for Volunteers
The best place, by
far, to start with volunteer issues is at Energize, the website from
volunteer guru Susan Ellis. This site has articles, books, a referral network,
information on Susan's training worldwide. Start here.
Leader is a site designed for volunteer managers. It has a huge set of
resources, including many links on best practices, starting a volunteer
program, working with new volunteers, and avenues for professional development.
Check this out.
Practice Guide has some great, very specific ideas in volunteer management
for you. You can see some regular pitfalls that beset many volunteer managers
and ways to avoid them, review best practices, and refer to the best glossary
of terms I've seen.
an organization that focuses on volunteer issues surrounding youth, but don't
discount this resource if all your volunteers are over 21. They've got great
ideas, very hands on applications, and you can register your nonprofit here to
let people see you need volunteer help.
Management Tip of the Month
Volunteer management in a Mission-Based
Volunteers. Some days it seems that they fit into
that old adage "can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em". The truth is, of
course, that we can't live without them. Every not-for-profit must have some
volunteers: their board of directors. Many not-for-profits use volunteers in
nearly every area of the organization. So volunteers are crucial to
not-for-profit success. But if we treat them either as a necessary evil, or as
a "free" resource, or as an uncontrolled resource, we lose some or all of the
benefits volunteers can and should bring to the organization. Worse, by
mismanaging our volunteers, we can often do harm to the organization and its
While I am not a specialist in volunteers (and the
people that wrote the recommended books are, so read them) I do have a
management perspective on the volunteers. It's simple: manage them. Recruit
volunteers for specific jobs, which means you need job descriptions. Match
skills with capabilities. Require appropriate standards of performance, from
attendance, to dress code, to behavior, to service provision. Evaluate
volunteers and let them know your feelings about their work. Provide training.
Let the volunteers evaluate their experience. Train staff to supervise
volunteers and interact with them. Evaluate the relative risks of having
volunteers versus staff in certain jobs.
All of this is consistent with my management
philosophy of getting the most out of all your resources. Treat your volunteers
with respect, and have high expectations of their contribution to your mission,
and good things will happen. Employ volunteers in a haphazard fashion and you
will have haphazard results.
If you found this hint helpful, there are
lots more management, marketing, and technology ideas for you in the "Ideas"
section at www.missionbased.com.
Check them out--they're free.
Here are my recommendations for your review
in the area of volunteer management. There are lots of good titles, some
general, some very, very focused. You will see that three of my favorite six
are by Susan Ellis, who runs Energize.com , one of my
recommended links above. Susan is really the guru of volunteerism, and I
recommend her publications, books and training highly.
My top recommendations in volunteer
management are these:
If you want more information on these
recommendations, click on the cover image and you will go the page about the
book on Amazon.com. There, you can look at more info about the book, and read
some reviews before you decide whether or not to purchase or look for this book
at your local library.
Note: If you want more
recommendations on publications in a wide variety of areas, including fund
raising, go to the publications section of my website:
If you don't find enough choices there, type fund
raising in the Amazon.com search box on the left hand side of the page and
you'll have more choices than you probably want!
Technology Ideas .
Volunteers and Technology
There are a number of things you can do in the
area of technology and volunteers.
Website:One place that is essential to
focus on is your website. Assuming you agree with my management idea above and
my marketing information below, ask yourself this: If I wanted to find out
about volunteer opportunities at your organization, could I do so easily at
your website? Is there a separate section for volunteers, including an area for
prospective volunteers and one for current volunteers? Are policies, training
schedules, work schedules, names of pertinent staff all listed? Some
organizations have car-pooling bulletin boards for volunteers, pictures and
contact information for all staff, even celebratory stories about the good
works the organization is doing. The web is a wonderful tool for volunteer
management. Use it.
Printed Materials:Make sure that you have
things to hand or mail people about the ways that they can help with their time
and talents. The most effective of these are in the form of a FAQ- listing
common questions and their answers. Remember to put specific contact
information in the brochure, such as: "For more information on ways you can
help us make a difference, call Peter at 555-1111, or email him at
Software: There is some great volunteer
management software out there, and some that is really poor-that takes more
time to use than a pencil and paper would. How do you tell what would be good
First, check websites of the vendor. Most
reputable vendors will allow you to download and try a sample version. Look at
the features. Does the software track the things you need tracked, does it have
the capacity for the number of volunteers, or types of volunteers you have and
the work that they do?
Remember that many volunteer software tools come
packaged with fund-raising tracking features as well, so if you already have a
fund raising package, check to see if it has volunteer management capabilities
that meet your needs before you buy something else.
Talk to peers about what they are using. Talk to
your state and national trade association, and see if they recommend certain
products or, better yet, can provide you with discounts on purchase.
Finally, make very, very, very sure about the
level of tech support that the vendor provides. Are there local tech experts
who are certified by the manufacturer that can help? Does the manufacturer
provide an online chat option for support? Ask other users of the product how
they have found support.
Here is a great list of software from The Senior
Tech Center. Certainly not just related to senior issue, this listing discusses
the firm, the software and its features. www.seniortechcenter.org/learning_paths/data_management/tips_tools_templates/prepackaged_db_software_list.php
If you found this hint helpful, there are lots
more management, marketing, and technology ideas for you in the "Ideas" section
at www.missionbased.com. Check them
Schedule for Peter Brinckerhoff
Below you'll see the date, location, and topics of
training I'm scheduled to do in the next few weeks. For more information on a
particular speaking engagement, get in touch with the contact person listed in
the right hand column, or email me.
For more information on my availability throughout
the next 12-18 months, available topics, sample agendas, and fees go to
Marketing and fund raising; a perfect
Marketing to volunteers? Doesn't quite sound like a
natural match, at least until you think about it. Every not-for-profit must
have at least some volunteers (the board of directors) and many could not
operate without the huge infusion of volunteer time and talent that they have
come to depend on.
So, you need volunteers. Ergo, they are a
market. So let's go through the marketing cycle and see if you can use it
to improve your recruitment and retention of this important part of your
|1. Identify Your Markets
||What kind of volunteers are you looking for?
Retirees, teenagers, drivers, fund-raisers, cooks, receptionists, focus on the
group that you need with skills you need to do the jobs you intend to have the
volunteers perform. Hint: Have job descriptions for volunteer jobs. This helps
recruitment a great deal.
|2. Identify Your Markets'
||Volunteers just help you because........so
why is it that they come in? People are giving you their time and talent
for reason (often a bunch of reasons), so you need to find out what the reasons
are and try to meet those wants. And, their are limitations on their desires to
serve, which are also wants. These may be the hours, or the time of day or
week, or the location that they can serve. Ask your volunteers why they serve,
and what their limitations are. Observe them in action, see what they enjoy.
Have them fill out evaluations regularly and pay attention to their
|3. Develop Your Product or
||The service you are providing to the volunteer
is an opportunity to serve. If you can design it with their wants in mind, and
be flexible to a point, you will have a much more attractive volunteer
|4. Develop a Reasonable Price
||Price? For a volunteer? Sure. You should have
some requirements of any volunteer, and that equates to price in this model.
For example, they may have to attend training every 12 months, or have to dress
a certain way, or provide a certain number of service hours per month. Hint
here: volunteer policies and procedures go a long way to helping you lay this
|5. Promote your Product or
||Now that you have your ideas all down, your
procedures and job descriptions set, you are ready to let people know that you
welcome volunteers in certain parts of your organization.
|6. Distribute your Product or
||Have the staff provide help to the volunteers
as needed. Be there to train, support, coach, correct, and praise as
||Evaluate your volunteers. Have your volunteers
evaluate the organization. See what works: do more of it. See what doesn't'
work: change it or stop it.
If you want to see more about this in detail, take
a look at more about my book
Mission-Based Marketing; Second
If you found this hint helpful, there are lots more
management, marketing, and technology ideas for you in the "Ideas" section at
www.missionbased.com. Check them
Future Topics in 2004
for the Mission-Based Management Newsletter....
Involvement of Younger Staff, Board, and Volunteers
your topic suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org
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