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Volunteer Management Update
May 2013
May Hot Topic

STRATEGIC VOLUNTEER MANAGEMENT: Expanding Your Organization's Brain

Does your organization have a volunteer involvement strategy? What does one look like? Why is it worth becoming a priority for senior managers? 

Read this Month's Hot Topic 
or listen to the audio version 


You can subscribe to the Hot Topic as a podcast or RSS text feed - or listen to the audio online. 

Everyone Ready Online Training


Imagine a meeting of leaders of volunteers where...

  1. Together, your participants view a 60-minute online seminar on a fundamental volunteer management topic...created and presented by a recognized expert trainer in our field.
  2. They complete small group exercises in pauses during the seminar and talk with each other about key issues raised. (Don't worry, we'll provide you with a Discussion Guide!)      
  3. If you wish, Susan or another trainer then joins your meeting LIVE via Skype for a Q&A session!


And the best part is how easy and affordable it is to make this your meeting reality! (Anywhere in the world, too.)


In response to many requests over time, we are pilot testing this new way for more people to make use of the training modules developed for the Everyone Ready Online Volunteer Management Training Program.  Want to learn more? Contact ersupport@energizeinc.com.    
Energize Online Bookstore

Help your colleagues in the volunteer management field who are trying to decide if a book in the Energize Online Bookstore  will fit their needs. Book reviews and recommendations are greatly appreciated when the comments come from other volunteerism practitioners.  Even short comments are welcome.


So, share your reactions to an author's work (even include how you used the material in your setting) by entering the information on our Book Recommendation form.  Your opinion matters!


You may also send your recommendations to us at info@energizeinc.com with "book review" in the subject line. 

What's New in e-Volunteerism


e-Volunteerism is our international, subscription-based journal for informing and challenging leaders of volunteers. A new quarterly issue launched on April 15th and will run through mid-July.  These new articles became available to readers since last month's Update: 


Free Access this Month:


Points of View: Low-cost, High-impact Professional Development - Susan Ellis counters the "we can't afford training" objection with creative ideas for professional development that cost nothing or very little.

Subscriber Access Only: 

(Subscribe for a full year or 48-hour access)


Connecting Volunteer Program Managers Across the State in Victoria, Australia  - Alicia Patterson describes a new initiative to deal with spontaneous volunteer coordination when natural disasters strike.

The Professor Is In: Using Classroom Techniques In Your Volunteering Presentations, Part 2 - Sarah Jane Rehnborg shares critical thinking exercises, how to incorporate guest speakers, and the complexity of internships.

Interviewing for Success: How to Conduct Effective Volunteer Interviews - Erick Lear's Along the Web overview of online resources on the topic of interviewing volunteers.

Take this Job and Love It! - Laurie Mook reviews a Canadian research study on the job satisfaction of paid volunteer resources managers.



Still to Come this Quarter

Articles on the Muslim tradition of service, using skills analysis techniques in volunteer training, and an audio feature of on-the-spot interviews at the 2013 conference of the Minnesota Association for Volunteer Administration (MAVA).


You can subscribe to e-Volunteerism for a full year or for 48-hour access. Note that subscribers have full access to the Archives of all twelve previous volume years. 


Free Volunteer Management Resource Library
Recordkeeping and Reporting

Visit this area of our Resource Library for a list of articles, Web sites, book excerpts and other references to help you decide what information/data you should collect and how to do so. Some sample references are listed below:

Visit Recordkeeping and Reporting for even more resources.

Susan's Tip
of the Month


Training does not always occur in classrooms and formal workshops. A powerful and effective tool for skill building is the humble instruction sheetYet the funny thing is that we often don't bother to write them or create an archive of them.


Instruction sheets are great because they let volunteers (and paid staff, of course) be independent by self-teaching. Any time you or someone else who knows what or how something should be done cannot be on the spot to explain it, an instruction sheet can be your substitute.


Everyday, Ordinary Instructions

Think about all the things that almost all volunteers will encounter in their work and write down essential information.  For example:

  • How a piece of equipment works (like your phone system!)
  • Where supplies for that task are stored and how to put them away, reorder them, etc.
  • Codes, passwords, and other information that can stop someone dead in their tracks if not known
  • Who should be contacted with questions or if something goes wrong (along with a phone number or extension)

This may sound so basic that it's not necessary.  It is necessary! And think how much time you'll save by not having to repeat all of this out loud endlessly.


For some common things (like the phone system), you can even post or glue down the instructions right next to the item (of course not with secret passwords visible!). Otherwise, keep a paper file or notebook - with a table of contents - in your office AND create an electronic file for online access from anywhere.


Specific and Special Uses

Instruction sheets really shine during special events or activities in which groups of people (often new to your work) volunteer together. In these cases, you start every sheet with a welcoming, "Thanks so much for your help today! We're providing these instructions to guide you in being successful." Or some message like that (and you can repeat the thank-you at the end, too).


Make the sheets consistent so that volunteers can easily compare instructions and also step into one another's roles if necessary.  In other words, make a template and then you can even fill in some details by hand later. For example:

  1. Title of the volunteer role - be specific so that it is clear this is not one-size-fits-all and the instructions are specific to this role.
  2. To whom the volunteer reports and how to contact/find them (also useful to say if this is an individual role or if other volunteers are doing the same thing and where they might be found).
  3. In sequence,list out the tasks to be done and, for each, include information such as where, what, how.
  4. What to do at the end of the shift, such as how to transition to the next volunteer, where to turn materials in, etc.

You will also need a method for distributing the instruction sheets to the right people (and make sure to give any team leader all of them!).


It's Simple but Not Easy

I'm sure you can all figure out what types of information you need to give in any instruction sheet, but I caution you not to whip these out at the last minute. If you are very familiar with the task being described, ask someone who is not to read your instructions and try to follow them. That's how you will discover what you missed!


Finally, given the ease of making short videos these days, visually record any physical task as a volunteer does it properly. Post the video on line and give the link at the top of the instruction sheet! Someone with a smart phone can even watch it on site while doing the task for the first time.


At the end, be sure to ask every volunteer to let you know if something needs to be updated or further explained on his or her instruction sheet, to help the next volunteer. 



This Quick Tip comes from Susan J. Ellis, President of Energize, Inc. 


Want more of
Susan's wisdom? 

Read her books. You'll find them in our bookstore. 




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