Volunteer Engagement Essentials
An intensive, all-day workshop for members of AmeriCorps in Oregon.
Especially for AmeriCorps Members
Morning presentation in OpenOffice;
also available in PDF.
Afternoon presentation in
OpenOffice; also available in PDF.
Please respect my copyright; if you use these presentation materials,
please make sure I have full credit as author, and include links to my
information. Letting me know you are using these materials would be
appreciated. Please do NOT upload these materials elsewhere.
These resources supplement the training:
VISTA School Volunteer Management Handbook. This handbook
was a resource guide for VISTAs in charge of managing school-based
volunteers for Sanchez Elementary School in Austin, Texas through the
AmeriCorps for Community Engagement and Education Program. Although much
of this handbook is site specific (relating only to Sanchez Elementary
School), all of the information should be helpful to anyone managing a
school-based volunteering program or working with volunteers in
for National and Community Service Knowledge Networks - resources
for AmeriCorps members, SeniorCorps members, and others in national
Volunteer Information on Your Web Site
If your organization or department involves volunteers, or wants to, there
are certain things your organization or department must have on
its web site - no excuses! To not have this information says that your
organization or department takes volunteers for granted, does not value
volunteers beyond money saved in salaries, or is not really ready
to involve volunteers. Here is what absolutely should be on your web site
Local Volunteers To Increase Diversity Among the Ranks
Having plenty of volunteers usually isn't enough to say a volunteering
program is successful. Another indicator of success is if your volunteers
represent a variety of ages, education-levels, economic levels and other
demographics, or are a reflection of your local community. Most
organizations don't want volunteers to be a homogeneous group; they want
to reach a variety of people as volunteers (and donors and other
supporters, for that matter). This resource will help you think about how
to recruit for diversity, or to reach a specific demographic.
One-Time, Short-Term Group Volunteering Activities
Details on not just what groups of volunteers can do in a two-hour,
half-day or all-day event, but also just how much an organization or
program will need to do to prepare a site for group volunteering. It's an
expensive, time-consuming endeavor - are you ready? Is it worth it?
Inc. - largest publisher of volunteer engagement-related books. Web
site includes numerous free resources.
- nonprofit providing discounts on brand name software and an
online forum to discuss computer and Internet technology use by
- Mission statements for your volunteer
(Saying WHY your organization or department involves volunteers!)
In addition to carefully crafting the way you talk about the value
of volunteers, your organization should also consider creating a
mission statement for your organization's volunteer engagement, to
guide employees in how they think about volunteers, to guide current
volunteers in thinking about their role and value at the organization,
and to show potential volunteers the kind of culture they can expect
at your organization regarding volunteers.
- Screening Volunteers for Attitude
When an organization involves volunteers in high-responsibility,
long-term roles, volunteer turnover can be a program killer. Screening
is vital to finding the right people for high-responsibility,
long-term volunteer roles, particularly those where the volunteer will
work with clients and the general public, and to screen out people who
may be better in shorter-term assignments or assignments where they
would not work with clients or the general public, or who would not be
appropriate in any role at the organization.
- Make All Volunteering as
Accessible as Possible
Tips for creating an accommodating and welcoming environment for
volunteers with disabilities.
- Using Third Party Web Sites Like
VolunteerMatch to Recruit Volunteers
There are lots and lots of web sites out there to help your
organization recruit volunteers. You don't have to use them all, but
you do need to make sure you use them correctly in order to
get the maximum response to your posts.
- Keeping Volunteer Information Up-to-Date
Keeping track of volunteer information is a challenge. At minimum, an
organization has to keep track of volunteers' up-to-date email address
and phone number. Organizations also need volunteers to report what
they are doing as volunteers and how many hours they are contributing
-- each day, each week or each month. Having this information for
volunteers is vital to the sustainability of volunteer involvement.
This page offers suggestions on how to keep volunteer information
up-to-date, with the goal of getting the information your organization
needs with minimal effort on your part.
- Using Video to Support Online
Video is a great way to further support volunteers, and your computer
probably already has all of the tools you need to make a video, or to
engage in a live video conversation with others. Video isn't something
to use only with online volunteers or remote volunteers (those
providing onsite service at a different location than yours). It's
also a tool you can use with new and current volunteers. In addition
to an organization producing videos for volunteers, it can also work
the other way around: volunteers can produce videos for organizations.
This resource provides information on your options, and links to my
own short video on the subject.
- Using Real-Time Communications
A growing number of organizations are using real-time communications
-- including video conferencing, online phone calls, chats and instant
messaging -- to hold online meetings with volunteers, to allow
volunteers to interact with staff, clients, or each other, or to
involve volunteers in a live, online, real-time event. This resource
provides more information on real-time communications with volunteers
-- what the various tools are, how agencies are using them to interact
with volunteers, and tips to encourage and maintain participation in
- Trends in & New Models of
Volunteering & Volunteer Management
- Recognizing Online Volunteers &
Using the Internet to Honor ALL Volunteers
Recognition helps volunteers stay committed to your organization, and
gets the attention of potential volunteers -- and donors -- as well.
Organizations need to fully recognize the efforts of remote, online
volunteers, as well as those onsite, and not differentiate the value
of these two forms of service. Organizations should also incorporate
use of the Internet to recognize the efforts of ALL volunteers, both
online and onsite. With cyberspace, it's never been easier to show
volunteers -- and the world -- that volunteers are a key part of your
organization's successes. This new resource provides a long list of
suggestions for both honoring online volunteers and using the Internet
to recognize ALL volunteers that contribute to your organization.
- Short-term Assignments for Tech
There are a variety of ways for mission-based organizations to involve
volunteers to help with short-term projects relating to
computers and the Internet, and short-term assignments are what are
sought after most by potential "tech" volunteers. But there is a
disconnect: most organizations have trouble identifying such
short-term projects. This is a list of short-term projects for "tech"
volunteers -- assignments that might takes days, weeks or just a
couple of months to complete.
- One(-ish) Day "Tech" Activities for
Volunteers are getting together for intense, one-day events, or events
of just a few days, to build web pages, to write code, to edit
Wikipedia pages, and more. These are gatherings of onsite volunteers,
where everyone is in one location, together, to do an online-related
project in one day, or a few days. It's a form of episodic
volunteering, because volunteers don't have to make an ongoing
commitment - they can come to the event, contribute their services,
and then leave and never volunteer again. Because computers are
involved, these events are sometimes called hackathons, even if coding
isn't involved. This page provides advice on how to put together a
one-day event, or just-a-few-days-of activity, for a group of tech
volunteers onsite, working together, for a nonprofit, non-governmental
organization (NGO), community-focused government program, school or
other mission-based organization - or association of such.
- Pro Bono / In-Kind / Donated Services
for Mission-Based Organizations:
When, Why & How?
There are all sorts of professionals who want to donate their services
-- web design, graphic design, human resources expertise, legal
advice, editing, research, and so forth -- to mission-based
organizations. And there are all sorts of nonprofits and NGOs who
would like to attract such donated services. But often, there's a
disconnect -- misunderstandings and miscommunications and unrealistic
expectations that lead to missed opportunities and frustrating
experiences. This resource, prompted by the topic coming up at the
same time on a few online discussion groups I read, is designed to
help both those who want to donate professional services and those who
want to work with such volunteers. It's applicable to a variety of
situations, not just those involving computer and Internet-related
- Finding a Computer/Network
Consultant (volunteer or paid)
Staff at mission-based organizations (nonprofits, civil society
organizations, and public sector agencies) often have to rely on
consultants, either paid or volunteer, for expertise in computer
hardware, software and networks. Staff may feel unable to understand,
question nor challenge whatever that consultant recommends. What can
mission-based organizations do to recruit the "right" consultant for
"tech" related issues, one that will not make them feel
out-of-the-loop or out-of-control when it comes to tech-related
- Promoting your volunteering program
Too often, the first position cut at an organization facing financial
difficulties is the volunteer coordinator. Most people in these
positions, I'm sorry to say, do a poor job of making sure that every
staff member at their organization knows the time and expertise they
bring to the position, and the essential nature of their role in
recruiting and supporting volunteers. The volunteer coordinator should
make sure he or she is seen as also absolutely essential to the
organization. This page talks about how a volunteer coordinator can
make sure the board, all paid staff and all volunteers at an
organization know the essential value of not only volunteers, but also
the volunteer coordinator.
- Why Should the Poor
Volunteer? It's Time To Re-Think the Answer
Editorial: When volunteering is so often presented just one way
-- as a state-sanctioned free labor activity -- reluctance and even
hostility by the unemployed, the cash-strapped and the disenfranchised
are completely justified. If governments and donors want volunteerism
campaigns in poor communities to lead to more volunteering, they must
radically update their message.
- Essential/Favorite Resources
Regarding Volunteer Management and Volunteerism
There is a plethora of resources promoting volunteerism, and at long
last, the number of volunteer management resources has grown
significantly. But which are "the best"? This is a list of my
favorite resources relating to volunteerism and volunteer management
-- books and online resources from trusted, established people and
organizations that I believe should be required reading of anyone who
recruits and supports volunteers.
- Online Discussion Groups for
How asynchronous communications (email-based online discussion groups,
web-based bulletin boards and USENET) can be used to communicate with
volunteers and to allow volunteers to communicate with each other.
Includes examples and links to more information.
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