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September 2013
In This Issue
Featured Title: What We Learned
More Resources
Excerpt: Older Volunteers Aging in Place
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Volunteers are most successful when they receive appropriate training and guidance throughout their work assignment. Be sure to offer volunteers the right amount of supervision, motivation, and intervention (when necessary). Check out the books and resources below for advice on supervising volunteers.

resource Featured Title
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
What We Learned

Packed with the advice, wisdom, and experience of over 85 real-life, on-the-job supervisors of volunteers, this book offers a crystal clear analysis of what works and what doesn't in supervision. It also includes comments from volunteers about what they need from those who supervise them, as well as excerpts from classic articles and books by experts in the field and a self-assessment survey covering the attitudes and actions necessary to be an effective supervisor.



Read an excerpt from this book below.


This e-book is available in print (US$21.95) or in e-book (PDF) format for immediate download (US$12.00).


Order What We Learned (the Hard Way) about Supervising Volunteers today!
resource2 More Resources
Handling Problem VolunteersHandling Problem Volunteers
Insightful and humorous guide to dealing with a wide range of problem behaviors exhibited by some volunteers, from irritating to seriously dysfunctional. 

This book is available as an e-book (PDF format) for immediate download (US$12.00). Order Handling Problem Volunteers.

Keeping VolunteersKeeping 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. 

This book is available as an e-book (PDF format) for immediate download (US$10.00). Order Keeping Volunteers .


Interviewing VolunteersTraining Module 4 in The 55-Minute Training Series: Volunteer Motivation
A trainer's guide (including PowerPoint slides) for training staff and lead volunteers about the different motivational needs that volunteers have and why they volunteer. Teach how to respect these differences and keep volunteers motivated and satisfied. 

This individual "Volunteer Motivation" training module may be purchased for (US$10.00) as an e-book (PDF format). You can also purchase the complete set of 12 training modules in Training Busy Staff to Succeed with Volunteers: The 55-Minute Training Series for (US$69.00) also as an e-book (PDF format).



e-Volunteerism: The Electronic Journal of the Volunteer Community 

  • Journal subscribers can log in here to read all the articles below.
  • Non-subscribers can read all the articles and more with affordable 48-hour access to the journal.

"Examining Moments of Truth"
The key to examining the moments of truth in your organization is first to recognize them and then work to eliminate the negative ones so that you create mostly positive moments of truth for your volunteers.


"How Many Supervisors Does It Take to Screw in a Volunteer?"
Lightbulb jokes aside, Steve McCurley and Susan J. Ellis debate one of the most frequent volunteer management questions they hear: "What's the recommended ratio of supervisory staff to volunteers?"


"Helping Volunteers through Stressful Situations"
This Keyboard Roundtable discusses ways volunteer resources managers can support volunteers through difficult times and what might be the long term payoffs for the program and the volunteer if we do it well.


Subscribe now and get immediate access to all of the above articles, plus everything in the current issue of the journal and its 13-year archive.

ResourcesBook Excerpt

Older Volunteers Aging in Place

Excerpted from, What We Learned (the Hard Way) about Supervising Volunteers: An Action Guide for Making Your Job Easier, Jarene Frances Lee with Julia M. Catagnus, Energize, Inc., 1999.


[A volunteer aging-in-place] is someone who joined you when s/he was younger and fit, but has grown older and now has diminished capacity. The quandary, of course, is that you feel loyalty to a volunteer who has contributed many hours of devoted service and it is awkward to have to confront the changes in ability that age may bring. But for the sake of your service recipients and the volunteer personally, you must find ways to balance the best interests of everyone.


Supervision tips:

  • Know the volunteer's sight and hearing limits and give written material or oral instructions with this in mind.
  • Pay attention to physical fatigue and talk with the volunteer about his/her strength and endurance.
  • When possible, buddy them up with younger volunteers. This technique is especially good for volunteers "aging in place," who know the job but could benefit from some support and perhaps oversight.
  • Insist on a rotation policy for everyone so that no volunteer becomes so entrenched in one assignment that it's impossible to make a change. Offer an "aging in place" volunteer an alternate assignment that makes use of long-time service, such as helping with new volunteer orientation - but only if s/he would be good at it!
  • Don't ignore a deteriorating situation. Sometimes starting a concerned (but caring) conversation gives the volunteer the opening to admit to feeling insecure and less able to do the work s/he formerly considered a breeze.
  • Only when appropriate, consider involving the volunteer's grown children in approaching their parent about changing abilities, or even the family physician.
Permission is granted for organizations to reprint this excerpt. Reprints must provide full acknowledgment of the source, as cited here:


Excerpted from What We Learned (the Hard Way) about Supervising Volunteers: An Action Guide for Making Your Job Easier, Jarene Frances Lee with Julia M. Catagnus, Energize, Inc., 1999. Found in the Energize 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.  About Us