Working with Volunteers


Published on

Presentation given 1/18/13 to Minnesota Literacy Council AmeriCorps VISTA members on Recruiting, Retaining and Engaging Volunteers, by Allison Runchey.

Published in: Education
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide
  • 5 minutesDiscuss in pairsShare a few responses with the group
  • 10 minutes
  • We have for the first time in history, four generations working side-by-side together as volunteers and workersGenerations have personalities!A few disclaimers: Everybody is different and generational traits are only one part of who we areThere is no one agreed upon start and end year for each generation – there is no one icon or event that characterizes each“The specific affectations of a generation’s formative years DO bind them together in exclusive ways.”Generations at Work,Zemke, Raines and FilipczakDefinition of Generation is a quote from Kupperschmidt, 2000
  • 10 minutesDiscuss in pairsShare with large groupWatch video
  • Need lots of praiseInexperienced and need supervision but don’t want to be micromanaged and want to help shape projects and lead rather than follow
  • Summary of the main points and places where there is overlap between generations.Common characteristics of Boomers, Gen Xers, and MillenialsAdapted from The New Breed: Understanding and Equipping the 21st Century Volunteer by Jonathan McKee and Thomas McKee
  • i.e. “Here’s what we need – do what I say, follow the directions, no input needed we expect loyalty”
  • 20 minutesDivideinto small groups. Think of three ways you could better engage:BoomersGen XersMillenialsWrite on flip chart paper. Report out to the group.Refer to MAVA handout
  • This may seem like a paradox, but both elements are needed for effective recruitment.Know what you want volunteers to do, but be open to opportunities you didn’t know you needed (or that they could do!)
  • At your next volunteer meeting, training or appreciation event, involve them in brainstorming for new outreach ideas. They may have contacts and know of organizations/people in the community that you otherwise wouldn’t think of.Give volunteers materials that they can pass out to friends or post in their own neighborhood, faith community, rec center, place of employment, school, etc.
  • Create a committee of current volunteers to become an “outreach team” Team up with colleagues and similar organizations whenever possible to do outreach. As Wellstone said, “We all do better when we all do better.” If budget is an issue, team up to pay for a booth at local community eventsSimply talking with others who do work similar to you can be helpful for increasing motivation and getting new ideas. Don’t isolate.Make outreach materials or volunteer information available to all the staff at your organization. Ask them to post them in their communities or share with family or friends. Recruit an intern specifically to help with volunteer recruitment. This is a great opportunity for anyone looking for Public Relations, Communications, Marketing, or Advertising experience.
  • Travel in expanding circles from your program location 1 block2 blocks½ mile1 mileWrite down everything you see – these are all potential resources.Why? you tend to be aware only of the things that are present in the one direction that you take to work every dayafter a while you no longer see what you are looking at3) some of the things you see may not be identifiable. An example of this last point is passing a company with the name "Mighty Corporation" emblazoned on a large sign. Do you know from that name what work this company does? Probably not.What your goals are:You want to spread the word about the good work that you do. Mostly, you will be planting seeds for future involvement. Could there be people, workers, students, seniors who might be interested in volunteering? What professional skills might be tapped at neighboring businesses or schools? Might there be access to other types of resources beyond volunteers: donated goods or materials, storage space, parking space, use of various loaned equipment, etc.?Do any of these neighbors share your service goals, an interest in your client population, or have anything else in common with you that might lead to collaboration of some sort?
  • Find flexible options for scheduling – group scheduling? When someone knocks on your door and says, “I have skills in _________ and want to share them.” How do you get them involved? If they are offering specialized services, or looking for a major volunteer project, how can you find a creative way for them to serve your organization’s mission?
  • In pairs, ask participants to discuss the following questions:  Ask them to share positive experiences. Write these on flip chart/whiteboard. What’s common to each of these? Ask if they had negative experiences. What’s common to each of these? The critical response to surface is that the recruiter in these methods is not interested in the volunteer’s interest, abilities, needs, or self-esteem. They are only concerned about filling a position. All recruitment efforts should honor the position to be filled and the person being recruited to hold that position.
  • After volunteers begin volunteering, issues and problems can sometimes arise. How can we deal with them constructively and positively?What are some issues or problems you’ve faced as a volunteer coordinator? Behavior? Setting boundaries? Not showing up? Something else?
  • Above all, address problems as they come up. Coaching by example - have the volunteer observe others - have the volunteer attend trainingCoaching by counseling - discuss the situation with the person - listen to his/her perspective - share your perspective - propose changes in behavior OR reassignment OR rescheduling OR taking a break - follow up to discuss the changes a few weeks later.Empower volunteers to discuss issues with the staff person they are working with. If they don’t feel comfortable, you can facilitate a conversation between the three of you.
  • Make this a regular part of their experience. Set up a time in advance and ask them “What would you like help with?” Give positive feedback and A FEW points to improve on or changes to make.Follow-up later to ask how it’s going and if the changes have been helpful.
  • If you’ve tried many other methods to address the situation and the problem persists, it’s best to end the relationship. Be clear and firm, yet politeSince the reasons for ending the relationship have been made clear through the coaching, observation, feedback, etc. process, you will not need to give an explanation.It’s our job as volunteer managers to ensure that volunteers are serving the mission of the organization and to protect the safety and well being of our students and staff.
  • What are some issues or problems you’ve faced as a volunteer coordinator? Behavior? Setting boundaries? Not showing up? Something else?Think of a scenario or story from your own experience, or someone you know, and share it with the group. Decide as a group to focus on ONE person’s story.Answer the following questions…
  • Large group discussion: What are the benefits of creating a sense of community among your volunteers?
  • Boundaries – geographical or task basedEmotional safety – volunteers feel comfortable saying how they feel about their experienceSense of belonging and identification - they feel they are a part of the wholePersonal investment – the cause or the activity is personally meaningful for volunteersCommon symbol system – how communication flows among volunteers and between volunteers and staffWays to foster membership: Welcoming environment – consider how initial contact is done, how they are greeted, space and time for socializing, snacksCommunication – quick hellos, email check-ins and follow-ups, email newsletters, phone calls, postcardsNametags – a tangible sign that they are part of the groupUsing symbols and logos – this shared system could include language and acronyms, as well as actual logos. Making sure everyone understands what they mean. (i.e. ESL, GED, etc)Certificates or materials from training – more tangible signs that they are part of the group.
  • Their motivations (or needs) may be: - to serve the community - to be social - to gain employment skills or experience - to be recognizedThey’re also given the tools/knowledge they need to do the work.Actions/ideas that support this: - Training/orientation provides them with necessary information Placement based on their interests and goals- Volunteers feel they have a sense of purpose or worth within the org- Ongoing trainings- Access to needed tools, books, curriculum Recognition events or awards ceremonies (for those who are motivated by this)
  • It works two ways:Volunteers feel they can influence and have an impact on the organization.AND, the organization influences the volunteers.Ideas for fostering the element of Influence:Placement decisions – volunteers choose where they’d like to be placed…they have some power/influence over this. Surveys/Evaluations – 3 – the opinions of volunteers matter…what they say will have influenceSharing Successes – announce when someone passes a test or accomplishes a goal. This allows volunteers to see the impact of their work and the influence they have on the students.Group Structures – all vols go through training, follow the same steps to becoming a volunteer. Leadership ops – ask experienced vols take on bigger roles. For example, they may mentor and coach other volunteers or be a spokesperson at an outreach event. They have influence and contribute to the group.
  • This may be the most important factor in creating a sense of community – an emotional bond.Volunteers have positive relationships with each other and with staff. They feel supported by staff. Staff feel supported by them.Volunteers attend events together and/or are able to discuss similar experiences.Ways to foster Shared Emotional Connection: Get to know volunteers as much as possible – personalize emails whenever possible, keep notes in a database system…Movie nights/book discussions - pick topic, interesting book or move that’s relevant to volunteer’s service and allow people to get to know each otherTraining workshops – another chance to get to know each other and have a shared experienceSocial Networking - Facebook and BlogWith permission, share volunteer’s contact information with one another.
  • Share in pairs. Wrap up: Ask for volunteers to give their ideas.
  • Working with Volunteers

    1. 1. *
    2. 2. *Demographic Changes*Outreach and Recruitment*Challenges*Creating Community
    3. 3. * If your organization had all the money, staff and resources you needed, would you still want volunteers involved? If so, why? *
    4. 4. *
    5. 5. *
    6. 6. Traditionalists 1925-1944Baby Boomers 1945-1964Generation X 1965-1984Millennials/Y 1985-2004 *
    7. 7. ** Do you believe in generational differences?* What people, places, things or events define your generation?* What generational differences have you noticed? Sitcom clip
    8. 8. * Assets Liabilities Loyal Dependable Change and ambiguity can be difficult Thorough and hardworking Hierarchical, military chain of command model Detail-Oriented Avoid Conflict Willing to volunteer many hours on regular basis; been volunteering for yearsSources:,
    9. 9. * Assets Liabilities Anxious to please Process-oriented Challenge the status quo Can be self-centered Good at seeing the big picture Rarely commit long-term Good team players Often juggling a lot of other activities Mission/service oriented Resent not being able to make decisions Will go the extra mile about how to do their work Problem-solversSources:,
    10. 10. * Assets Liabilities Enthusiastic, flexible Cynical; skeptical Direct communicators Dislike rigid work requirements Eager to learn, very determined Impatient Like to get things done – results before People skills can be lacking process Mistrust institutions Technologically savvySources:,
    11. 11. * Assets Liabilities Collaborative Inexperienced Goal-oriented Need supervision & structure Highly educated High expectations Quick Lack of skills for dealing with difficult Optimistic & positive people Technologically savvySources:,
    12. 12. * Volunteering is a civic duty
    13. 13. *Volunteer when they see a causethat impacts them directlyWant to give backKnow they can change the world
    14. 14. * Volunteer when they see a cause that impacts them directlySource:
    15. 15. * Volunteerism is civic duty Want to give back Need experience to complement their knowledge and educationSources:,
    16. 16. * * Very busy, has many obligations and often volunteers for multiple organizations * Wants flexibility * Expects to be empowered * Is tech savvy * Doesn’t want to simply make a contribution; wants to make a difference * Doesn’t want to be micromanaged
    17. 17. *Is your volunteer program basedon a “traditionalist” model?
    18. 18. Considering generational differencesand the “New Breed,” how might youchange your approach to volunteer:*Recruitment?*Job design/management?*Recognition and support?
    19. 19. *
    20. 20. * * Have a clear position description and keep an open mind
    21. 21. * *Current volunteers!
    22. 22. * Create an outreach team* Connect with colleagues* Ask for help! *
    23. 23. * Your circle of resources *
    24. 24. * How can potential barriers be eliminated or reduced?* How can you welcome unexpected opportunities? *
    25. 25. *
    26. 26. *Recall a time when you were recruited to be a volunteer/member and decided to get involved.*How did you hear about it? What recruitment techniques were used?*Reconstruct how you felt about the form of recruitment used and your initial response to the “invitation.”*What can be learned about effective recruitment techniques through that experience?
    27. 27. *
    28. 28. * Position descriptions* Policies* Red flags in the screening process *
    29. 29. *
    30. 30. *
    31. 31. *
    32. 32. *
    33. 33. * Could this have been prevented? Or could it be prevented in the future by a change in the position description or volunteer policies?* Is this a coaching opportunity?* Could training address this issue?* Would observing the volunteer and giving feedback be helpful?* Is it necessary to end the volunteer relationship? Or are there alternatives?
    34. 34. *
    35. 35. * Membership* Influence* Integration and fulfillment of needs* Shared emotional connection *
    36. 36. * Boundaries* Emotional safety* A sense of belonging and identification* Personal investment* A common symbol system *
    37. 37. * Volunteers play an important role in the organization and their motivations are fulfilled* They have the tools and knowledge needed for success *
    38. 38. Individual Thevolunteers Organization *
    39. 39. * Members support each other* Common experiences or events *
    40. 40. *
    41. 41. * 3 things you learned, were surprised by, or thought was important today* 3 actions you plan to take next week or in the near future *
    42. 42. **651-251-9110 *