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December 2008
Support Volunteers during the Holidays

In This Issue
Featured Book:
What We Learned (the Hard Way) about Supervising Volunteers

More Resources

Book Excerpt:
"Maintaining a Work Environment that Enhances Productivity"

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We tend to think of the winter holidays as a time when business activity (minus retail operations) slows down, but this is exactly the time when many volunteer activities rev up.  We may be shifting our focus from recruitment campaigns to end-of-year thank you parties, but also need to ensure that volunteers are performing their best whether they are collecting and delivering food donations, dealing with children on school break, getting ready to do tax returns for older people, or raising much-needed funds.  Let's not forget that the way we support volunteers now can affect recruiting in the future. See resources below to help keep volunteers happy and motivated.
FeatureBookFeatured Book
What We Learned (the hard way) about Supervising Volunteers What We Learned (the Hard Way) about Supervising Volunteers
By Jarene Frances Lee with Julia M. Catagnus

Advice, wisdom, and experience from over 85 real-life, on-the-job supervisors of volunteers: crystal clear analysis of what works and what doesn't in supervision.

Order the book NOW!
(print US$21.95, e-book US$15.00)
ResourcesMore Resources
Best of All: The Quick Reference Guide to Effective Volunteer Involvement 
This resource collects into a single volume all the latest techniques that produce effective volunteer involvement -- especially for volunteer volunteer coordinators.

Handling Problem Volunteers
Insightful and humorous guide to dealing with a wide range of problem behaviors exhibited by some volunteers, from irritating to seriously dysfunctional.

Keep Those Volunteers Around
A back-to-basics book on volunteer retention.

Keeping Volunteers: A Guide to Retention
How to enhance volunteer retention and motivation, avoid volunteer burnout, get beyond short-term commitments, and more -- subjects of critical interest to every volunteer program manager.
ExcerptBook Excerpt
"Maintaining a Work Environment that Enhances Productivity"

By Jarene Frances Lee with Julia M. Catagnus
From What We Learned (the Hard Way) about Supervising Volunteers: An Action Guide to Making Your Job Easier, p. 65.

You will remember that we defined supervision as a relationship in which you, as the supervisor, take actions that empower those you supervise to be successful in their work. Perhaps the most important action you can take regarding the work environment is to remove obstacles to success.
Do your volunteers have adequate workspace? Is the workspace organized, well-ventilated and well lighted? Do they have the supplies they will need for their work? Is the equipment they use in good working order? If making telephone calls is a major part of their work, do they have regular, uninterrupted access to instruments and outgoing lines? Is there a place they can store their work in between shifts?
What do volunteers see when they look around? Are others -- especially paid staff -- motivated? ...energetic? ...productive? ...cooperative?
If volunteers must bring personal property to your area, is there an adequate and safe space for coats, purses, and wet umbrellas? If not, you can see that a volunteer may feel like an "extra" rather than like an integral member of your team. They may also have their minds on whether their property is safe rather than on their work.
The safety of the volunteers themselves should be of concern to you. Are volunteers doing activities with a high risk of injury? Are they working in or traveling through an unsafe environment? Might the clients be a source of any danger? Work with your organization's risk manager to address these situations openly and honestly. You may need to provide special risk-reduction training or institute policies such as having volunteers travel in pairs.
Ask volunteers what they need to do their job well and what environmental factors might prevent them from doing their best. Ask about equipment and supplies, access to information, and the rest of the team. If you can't immediately address every issue, explain why and keep working on them. Let volunteers know what you are doing so they see that you keep your word. If there are problems that you can't solve, explain why and then explore with your volunteers methods either to get around the problem or to cope with it.

Permission is granted for organizations to reprint this excerpt. Reprints must provide full acknowledgment of source, as provided:

Excerpted from  What We Learned (the Hard Way) about Supervising Volunteers: An Action Guide to Making Your Job Easier, by Jarene Frances Lee with Julia M. Catagnus, Energize, Inc., 1999. Available in the Energize, Inc. Online Bookstore at
Energize, Inc.
5450 Wissahickon Ave., C-13
Philadelphia, PA 19144

Energize empowers and inspires leaders of volunteers worldwide. Our specialty is creating and selecting the most relevant, innovative resources in volunteer management. We're advocates for the power of volunteers and for the recognition of the leaders who unleash it.
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