Thursday, April 25, 2013

Volunteer

If people in charge of volunteers would keep the following in mind, the world would be a happier place.  And happy people are more willing to volunteer.  Which means more volunteers.  Which means you do these things more often.  To keep volunteers happy.  And you get more volunteers.  It's a wonderful cycle.

People in charge of volunteers, take note.

1  DO give clear instructions on what is expected of each volunteer.  How much time should the task take?  When should it be done?  What exactly do you want the volunteer to do?  Has someone done this before, so we don't have to reinvent the wheel?  The volunteer wants to do a good job.  She can't do that if she doesn't know what her job is.

2  DO make sure the volunteer has the tools needed to complete the job.  Think through the steps of a job, then collect the things a person will need to do it.  If a person is supposed to empty trash cans, you darn well better have a supply of new trash bags easily accessible.   If you want someone to paint a mural for VBC, make sure you have the paint, brushes, clean-up supplies, and a clear idea of what the mural is to look like.

3  DO match the tasks to the number of volunteers needed to complete it.  Too many volunteers, and you have bored, irritated people who are standing around doing nothing.  Too few volunteers, and the folks helping you are overworked and unhappy.  Think it through, and plan accordingly.  Their time is valuable.  Respect it.

These last two are the most important.  Pay close attention.

4   DO NOT subject your volunteers to horribly long, off-topic meetings.  If a meeting must be held, fine.  But don't be wasting every one's time by starting or ending late, going off-topic into the land of gossip, or explaining every single mind-numbing detail about how you chose the napkins for the dinner.  Their time is valuable.  Respect it as such.

5.  DO respect and encourage your volunteers.  Guilting people into action is not encouragement.  Asking if they need anything or have any questions is.  Wasting time is not showing respect.   Thanking a person for a job well done is. 

Everyone is busy.  Everyone has a lot of things to do.  If you want people to volunteer, keep this fact in mind.  If a volunteer feels he isn't being respected, or if a volunteer feels he is being taken advantage of, he won't volunteer again. 

Organize yourself before you organize your volunteers. 

I beg of you.

If you can't, I hear worker bees are in high demand.

Have a lovely day!

I just saw that this week's FTSF sentence is "I am passionate about..."

Yeah, I'm quite passionate about volunteers and their time being respected. 


Finish the Sentence Friday

33 comments:

  1. 6. DO hold a kickass Christmas party every year for your volunteers. You don't pay them, unclench the purse strings enough for a great party to show them they're appreciated.

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    1. A thank-you party is always a nice touch.

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  2. hmmm.. did you do some volunteering recently?

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    1. Oh, did it show? :/ (I'm going to admit right here that I suck at emoticons. Smile and frown are the best I can do, and I've never done a frown. I think that one is appropriate for my current emotion.)

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  3. So...did you happen to have a meeting last night (or recently) at the soccer fields? ;) I will tell you that when I showed up for the volunteer slot to which I was assigned, all the supplies I needed were readily available and my task only took about 30-45 minutes. So thanks for that! :)

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    1. And here I thought I hid it well.
      I'm so glad it was a pleasant experience for you. I just sent out the new signup.

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  4. All good points. i can't count the amount of times I've been frustrated by all those things you mentioned. Especially when I was an official, community volunteer.

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    1. It is shocking how universal these things seem to be. I hate that for volunteers.

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  5. All excellent points! As PTSO president, volunteers are my life line so I try very hard to respect their time and effort.

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    1. It was PTO that first taught me about wasted time. And so I became PTO president, too. Glad to hear of another efficient PTO!

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  6. AMEN! Especially about the time-wasting meetings as a HUGE no-no.

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    1. Time-wasting meetings make my blood boil. I refuse to be a part of things that require me to attend them.

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  7. I can't tell you how many times I've asked "what do you need me to do?" and no gives me an answer. Then why am I here? It drives me batty, I usually end up making up my own task.

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    1. I've been there many times myself. I usually find tasks for myself and anyone else I see standing around. Now that I think about it, some people just may call me bossy.

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  8. This is such a good subject to create a post on. I have volunteers every year in my classroom and since most of them are given to me rather than something I ask for, I'm always find myself guilty for wasting their time because you do need to help them help you. It only makes sense.

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    1. They were given to you? That's not exactly easy. When I taught older kids, I didn't want parents helping in the room, as there really wasn't anything I could give them. Fortunately, I didn't have them in there unless I specifically asked for them.

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  9. Wonderful and truly do agree with you on the subject of volunteers. You said it perfectly here and I thank you for linking this up with us this week!! :)

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  10. Great post! I've never volunteered, but have wanted to for years now. I get such anxiety thinking about the process, because I know nothing about it.

    All your points are spot on (minus the speech and going on tangents, but I am biased being I am long-winded ha!), and I kind of apply them to most any job I have. Makes sense to me, but it seems most every employer I've worked for disagrees.

    It is very awesome you volunteer! I somehow kind of knew you would and I don't think we discussed it... You just seem very kindhearted.

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    1. Never volunteered?? Oh, Jak, get out there! There is no process. Decide where you want to volunteer, then go in and offer to help. I fully expect to hear about your first volunteer effort soon. Let me know if you need any ideas!

      Speeches that go on tangents are very different than meetings doing so. Very different.

      And thank you for your kind words.

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  11. Great post! Becoming a volunteer is definitely on my "to do" list. When I was a teacher, they were so important in my classroom. My son's preschool has volunteer "grandparents" who come into the class and read. And I definitely second trying to make participation as streamlined as possible: no long, unnecessary meetings for volunteers!

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    1. Our kids had Fabulous Friday readers once a month. I loved going in to read and do activities with the kids.
      There are so many ways to volunteer, even with your kids.
      And meetings are overrated, to be sure.

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  12. Preach it! Yes! And especially to #4... Can you print this post and conveniently hang it up somewhere or hand it out as a flyer? You make a very articulate spokeswoman. :) So happy to see you on the FTSF this week, friend!

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    1. I'm glad FTSF matched up with this A to Z challenge I'm doing/so close to finishing!

      I would love to not only hand it out, but I'd like to also staple it to the foreheads of a few people. :)

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  13. All great advice. It is important to have time respected. Meetings can get a little crazy in this regard with everyone having to have their say. I appreciate a leader who keeps things running on task and time. Sounds like you have that ability.

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    1. I have no problem going to a well-run meeting. It's those other ones that bring me down. I have to keep reminding myself that different people have different strengths, and leading a meeting is not something most people are born to do.

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  14. I couldn't have said it better! I used to do a lot of volunteering and gave it up for a number of reasons you listed. And I found that it's not a problem with one or two organizations, it seems to run rampant in a number of them and it's a shame.

    Great post!

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    1. It is a shame that volunteers aren't always used appropriately. I hope you do find someplace that you can volunteer which is run a bit better. There are lots of them out there!

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  15. Excellent points! I volunteer for my son's classroom quite a bit and I can tell you that the worst is when I feel taken advantage of or that my time was wasted. I haven't felt like that from the teachers or school staff...sadly it's the other moms sometimes.

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    1. I rarely have found it to be the case with school personnel. I just keep telling myself, "She's a volunteer, too. This is not her strength but I will give her the benefit of the doubt." Or, I simply start running it when her time is up. :)

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  16. Man, that do make sure you have enough volunteers! I know someone I need to forward this too. I have had too many jobs with this organization as a "volunteer" I am starting to feel the hurt! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Oh, it is awful when you find out there are only a few volunteers for a job. I'm in the middle of this right now, and I didn't even offer to do it in the first place.

      Feel free to forward! :) And thanks for stopping by!

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  17. You are absolutely right. I recruited and trained volunteers for 12 years and learned a lot about how to determine who is best for what task, how to show them appreciation, how to encourage them. Volunteers are the heart of non-profits especially. it's wonderful when you find good ones!
    from The Dugout

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Thank you for taking the time to tell me what you're thinking!