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20 important questions to ask when volunteering


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20 important questions to ask when volunteering

  1. 1. 20 Important Questions to Ask When Volunteering Debbie Ray, CVA Certified Volunteer Administrator
  2. 2. Things to Consider First? <ul><li>What are You looking for…..? </li></ul><ul><li>How “healthy” is the Agency? </li></ul><ul><li>Whose managing the program? (ie. Volunteer Manager, Coordinator, Director, …….) </li></ul>
  3. 3. Looking at YOU first……………….. <ul><li>Basic Level: Self-serving drive </li></ul><ul><li>Secondary Level: Relational drive </li></ul><ul><li>Highest Level: Belief drive </li></ul>
  4. 4. What are you looking for……? <ul><li>Achievement </li></ul><ul><li>Recognition and feedback </li></ul><ul><li>Personal growth </li></ul><ul><li>Giving something back </li></ul><ul><li>Bringing about social change </li></ul><ul><li>Family ties </li></ul><ul><li>Friendship, support, bonding and a feeling of belonging </li></ul>
  5. 5. Turn offs to volunteering……. <ul><li>Disorganized management </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of board support </li></ul><ul><li>Staff indifference </li></ul><ul><li>Limited training and orientation </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of contact and support </li></ul><ul><li>Wrong assignment </li></ul><ul><li>Perks that are withdrawn </li></ul><ul><li>Insufficient funding </li></ul>
  6. 6. Have a clear understanding of what your motivation to volunteer is….. <ul><li>What do I want to do that meets both mine and the agencies’ needs? </li></ul><ul><li>How often can I give my time? </li></ul><ul><li>How does my volunteer job fit into the big picture? </li></ul>
  7. 7. Agency Mission, Vision & Values <ul><li>What is the mission/vision/values of the organization and is it compatible with my beliefs/needs, etc. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Clear Planning and Allocation of Resources <ul><li>Is the program/manager organized? </li></ul><ul><li>Is the volunteer program part of the overall agency operating/strategic plan? </li></ul><ul><li>Goals and objectives are clear? </li></ul><ul><li>Does the volunteer program have an operating budget built into the overall agency budget? </li></ul><ul><li>If not, who/how is the volunteer program funded? </li></ul><ul><li>Do volunteers fund the program? </li></ul><ul><li>Do I have to pay for my volunteer uniform, t-shirt, badge, etc.? </li></ul><ul><li>Are you expected to donate both funds and time to the program? </li></ul><ul><li>Is there a designated area/work station for volunteers </li></ul><ul><li>Does the volunteer program have the equipment and supplies it needs to operate? </li></ul><ul><li>Have you seen a recent annual report, financial statements, Non profit’s 990 form, </li></ul>
  9. 9. Effective Policies and Procedures <ul><li>Is there a “Policy Manual” for the volunteer program and when was it last updated? </li></ul><ul><li>Are there clear directions on the “dos and don’ts” of the program? </li></ul><ul><li>What are my limitations as a volunteer? </li></ul><ul><li>Can I be terminated? </li></ul><ul><li>Do I have grievance rights? </li></ul><ul><li>Do I sign a confidentiality agreement? </li></ul><ul><li>Is there a waiver form the agency requires me to sign in order to volunteer? </li></ul>
  10. 10. Clear and meaningful WRITTEN Assignments <ul><li>Are there job descriptions/assignments/services/agreements/ etc. for every volunteer position? </li></ul><ul><li>If not, why…..? </li></ul><ul><li>Are you clear on what it is you are expected to do/not do while volunteering? </li></ul><ul><li>Are job descriptions reviewed and revised periodically? </li></ul><ul><li>What am I liable for if I do something that’s not in the job description? </li></ul><ul><li>Do I know who my direct supervisor will be while I’m volunteering? </li></ul><ul><li>Do I know who to go to if my direct supervisor is not available? </li></ul><ul><li>Is there a retention process in place to retain volunteers </li></ul>
  11. 11. Creative and Target Marketing/Recruitment <ul><li>Who makes up the volunteer corps? </li></ul><ul><li>Does it reflect the demographics of the community? </li></ul><ul><li>Is there a Public Relations department/manager? </li></ul><ul><li>Have there been any “stories” circulating about the agency either rumors or publically? </li></ul><ul><li>How will my involvement in the agency be used for promotion? (ie. Photos, stories, testimonials, TV, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Are the current volunteer brochures, newsletters, fliers, etc. professional/appealing? </li></ul><ul><li>How often do you see PR on the agency? </li></ul>
  12. 12. Careful Interviewing and Screening of Volunteers <ul><li>What are the requirements and qualifications to get into the program? </li></ul><ul><li>Does the agency do background checks or polygraph exam? </li></ul><ul><li>Who pays for this….me or the agency? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the agency’s guidelines for involving people with a criminal background (misdemeanor vs felony), </li></ul><ul><li>What other “types” of volunteers can participate in the program? (ie. Court ordered community service, college interns </li></ul>
  13. 13. Effective Orientation and Training for Volunteers <ul><li>Is there an orientation and is it organized? </li></ul><ul><li>Does it cover policies and procedures? </li></ul><ul><li>Have paid staff been to an orientation/training preparing them to work with volunteers? </li></ul><ul><li>Who conducts the orientation? </li></ul><ul><li>Is training offered prior to my taking on a volunteer assignment? </li></ul><ul><li>Who conducts the volunteer training for specific tasks/duties? </li></ul><ul><li>Does the agency use current technology for orientation, training, and communications? </li></ul><ul><li>Are the orientations flexible in their delivery? ( ie., time, location, etc.) </li></ul>
  14. 14. Proactive Risk Management <ul><li>Operational volunteers (worker bees): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Is there a clear understanding of your liability coverage (ie. Workers compensation, nonpaid employee liability coverage, etc.) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Is there a written process in place to report and file a claim </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Am I covered if I drive a company vehicle </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Will my personal property/vehicle insurance be responsible? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Governance volunteers (thinker bees): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Does the agency carry D&O (Directors and Officers) insurance, property/facility coverage, additional liability insurance? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How often are these policies reviewed by professionals? (should be annually) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reviewing amounts of coverage so that the agency is not under insured. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Can I be sued personally for damages as a board member? </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Supportive and trained supervision <ul><li>Who does the volunteer coordinator report to in the agency? </li></ul><ul><li>Are you clear on who you report to in the agency? </li></ul><ul><li>Does your volunteer coordinator belong to any professional organization? </li></ul><ul><li>How often do they receive training to enhance their professional growth? </li></ul><ul><li>What processes are in place to discuss concerns, issues, grievances, etc.? </li></ul>
  16. 16. Accurate and Useful Record-keeping and reporting <ul><li>Do you know your current worth as a volunteer? </li></ul><ul><li>Nationwide $20.25 (Independent Sector – 2009) </li></ul><ul><li>Arizona $19.25 (Independent Sector - 2009) </li></ul><ul><li>Is there a mechanism in place to record volunteer hours? </li></ul><ul><li>How are your volunteer hours used? (ie., grants, $$$, annual reports, etc.) </li></ul>
  17. 17. Constructive Evaluation and Feedback <ul><li>Are evaluations conducted for volunteers….annually, 6 months, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Do volunteers have a chance to evaluate the volunteer program, volunteer coordinator or agency? </li></ul>
  18. 18. Formal and Informal Recognition Program <ul><li>Staff training for working with volunteers </li></ul><ul><li>What are ways that volunteers are informally thanked in the agency? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A “ thank you and we appreciate you” culture is developed by the organization </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Newsletter recognition </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Upper management recognizes a special event (birthday, sympathy, congrats cards) </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Review those 20 questions…… <ul><li>What are You looking for…..? </li></ul><ul><li>What’s the “health” of the Agency? </li></ul><ul><li>Whose managing the program? </li></ul><ul><li>Clear Planning & Resources </li></ul><ul><li>Effective Policies & Procedures </li></ul>
  20. 20. Review those 20 questions…… <ul><li>Clear & Meaningful Assignments </li></ul><ul><li>Creative & Target Volunteer Marketing/Recruitment </li></ul><ul><li>Careful Interviewing & Screening </li></ul><ul><li>Effective Orientation & Training </li></ul><ul><li>Proactive Risk Management </li></ul>
  21. 21. Review those 20 questions…… <ul><li>11. Supportive Supervision </li></ul><ul><li>12. Constructive Evaluation & Feedback </li></ul><ul><li>13. Formal & Informal Recognition </li></ul><ul><li>14. Is there a “team” feeling when I volunteer? </li></ul><ul><li>15. Does my input & participation matter? </li></ul>
  22. 22. Review those 20 questions…… <ul><li>16. Am I doing what I was told I would be doing when I volunteer? </li></ul><ul><li>17. Are there leadership opportunities for volunteers to develop if they want? </li></ul><ul><li>18. Does my volunteering interfere with my family commitments? </li></ul><ul><li>19. Am I being asked to do more than should be expected? </li></ul>
  23. 23. Review those 20 questions…… <ul><li>20. Are you having fun and are you enjoying yourself? </li></ul>
  24. 24. Questions