Archive for November, 2011
Would you like to help volunteers find your organization on HandsOn Connect, HandsOn’s new volunteer database? We have a few helpful tips that will ensure volunteers can find you based on interest and impact area.
1. Select Your Impact Area and Population Served. If you are the primary contact on our account, login and take a look at the My Organization tab. You will see drop down menus for both impact area and population served. If your organization would like to select more than one item from these lists, send what you would like selected to Melissa. Unfortunately, partners can only select one of each at this time. We hope that will change in the future.
2. Beef up your Organization Description. On top of ensuring volunteers know the population you serve and the impact area you work in, you can also add key works to your organizational description. This section is again under the My Organization tab. It is labeled Mission Statement in the Partner Portal but it is not labeled on the public site so you can put anything you want in there. Include common search words like literacy, environment, at risk youth, etc. This will help volunteers find you when they conduct basic searches on the database.
3. Make sure you have an active opportunity available for sign up. Like many of us, volunteers hate running into a dead end! Imagine finding an organization that fits your values and interests only for it to appear that the organization isn’t currently seeking volunteers. Even if you do not have a specific need available, always have at least one general opportunity active. Remember the goal is to make it easy for volunteers to engage with you. Also, organizations who are not active on the database are sometimes hidden from searches. Don’t miss out on meeting a great volunteer!Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
As much as we appreciate volunteers, there are always a few, however, that throw a wrench into our plans due to their unreliability. Managing Volunteers You know the ones…. The “over-scheduler” who calls at the last minute to let you know he has a conflict and won’t be able to make it. Or the “amnesia victim” whose scheduled time just slipped her mind. The intentions may be good, but these unreliable helpers can really impact the effectiveness of your event or program. The question is how to deal with them. Again, the answer lies in treating volunteers similarly to the way you treat paid employees. There’s very little research specific to handling troublesome volunteers, but there is a wealth of human resource data aimed at dealing with regular employees who may be problematic. This can serve as our guiding light in dealing with volunteers. When addressing problems such as unreliability, Dr. Joanne Sujansky, founder of the management consulting firm KeyGroup, suggests the following approach. (Note: where Dr. Sujansky refers to employees in her article, we modify it here to specify volunteers.)
Be specific – Don’t exaggerate or make generalized statements statements like “you’re never on time.” Stick to exact accounts, such as “you’ve had to cancel the last two times you’ve been scheduled.”
Focus on the requirements of the job – Be clear in explaining how the unreliability affects everyone. It’s quite possible that your volunteers don’t understand how integral their roles are. With some clarity, they may take matters more seriously.
Consider the needs of the volunteer – Always try to address the situation in the manner you think will get the best results from that volunteer. Keep in mind that some are straight shooters and would prefer you get to the point, while others may seem crushed to hear they aren’t doing well. With this in mind, strongly consider how you are going to deliver the message.
Give timely feedback- Don’t wait a long time to address a problem situation. Of course, if there is a highly emotional or stressful environment at the time of the poor performance, wait until it has subsided.
Make sure the volunteer understands – Don’t ask a bunch of closed-ended questions. If you ask the volunteer if s/he understands, the answer is likely to be yes, whether your point came across or not. So, at the end of the discussion, it’s a good idea to ask your volunteer to paraphrase what you just said. From there, you can see if s/he truly gets what you are saying.
Document – Always create a paper trail of your conversations, as well as the behaviors before and after them. The trick here is to be objective and document both good and bad. Many managers fall into the trap of only documenting problematic behavior.
As Dr. Sujansky points out, most people in positions of authority hesitate to confront individuals about poor performance. However, if you do, one of two things will probably happen:
1) the volunteer’s track record will improve.
2) the individual will deselect himself/herself from your volunteer pool.
In the long run, either of these two outcomes is likely to result in a more dedicated, cohesive, and productive group of volunteers for your organization.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
From the HandsOn Network Blog.
So you want to help your community this holiday season, but while brainstorming ideas for the project you find yourself stumped? The media confronts us daily with the many social problems that plague our nation, without a solution in sight. It is easy to feel helpless when this information is talked about because no solution is foreseen.
It’s a good idea to start looking for holiday volunteer opportunities now, so you can be sure to find something you’d like to do. Just like shopping for a turkey the night before Thanksgiving, you might not find what you’re looking for if you wait until the last minute to find somewhere to volunteer.
It is easy to become involved in making a difference for your community by following these simple project tips. And remember, you can always get in touch with one of our HandsOn Network volunteer centers to find volunteer opportunities!
- Hunger or Housing. From big to small projects there are tons of ways that you can help tackle this issue in your community! Help cook and serve meals at a soup kitchen, gather clothing and donate it to your local shelter, make toiletry kits for the homeless, make care packages full of winter clothing for your local children’s shelter, help repair a local homeless shelter, or partner with Habitat for Humanity and help with a build.
- Elderly. Helping the older population in your community can be both fun and rewarding from any level. You can spend time with a senior citizen in your community, deliver meals to a homebound individual, perform home repairs or yard work for senior citizens in need, hold a social event for your local nursing home, adopt a “grandfriend” at your local nursing home and make regular visits.
- Education. Education has become a big topic in the media over the years; there are many ways that you can help improve your community’s education system through volunteering. Ideas include raising money for Braille or large print books for the visually impaired, plan a school supply drive to assemble “back to school” kits for your local schools, set up a buddy system for kids needing friends, bring toys to hospitalized children, read books or the newspaper to visually impaired individuals, raise money to purchase and install playground equipment.
- Health. Participate in a local AIDS or breast cancer walk, volunteer at a Special Olympics event, hold a blood drive, help a local agency create health promotion kits, host a health screening at a local store, library, or school.
- Environment. You can help tackle your community’s environmental issues at many different levels. Set up a recycling center at your local school or retirement community, clean up a vacant lot or river bank, raise funds to adopt an acre of the rainforest or other habitat, clean up trash in your local park, partner with volunteers to paint a mural at a local school or park.
These are just a few tips that can be incorporated into your holiday resolutions that will make a big difference in your local community. From big to small you can help improve your community this holiday season.
For more great holiday volunteer opportunities, checkout HandsOn’s Winter Wishes Event Page.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
An interview is a conversation with a purpose. This conversation provides a framework for you to get to know the prospective volunteer and for the volunteer to get to know you and your organization. Information garnered in the interview is invaluable as you look for service placements that fit your volunteers and as you find ways to maximize the volunteer opportunity for all concerned.
Interviews vary based on the complexity of the opportunity. As the service opportunity grows in complexity so too does the interview. As a rule of thumb, interviewing protocols for volunteers parallel those utilized for salaried positions, including securing personal and background reference checks for positions that require this level of scrutiny. Less intensive service opportunities and group projects are generally handled more informally often involving simple record keeping so that you are able to follow-up with volunteers and invite them back for additional service opportunities.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
The new HandsOn Connect Database continues to grow in popularity with volunteers throughout the community. Have you considered what people might see when they look up your organization on the database?
Remember the content about your organization in Connect is completely controlled by you! We know that some struggle with using the site or prefer to remain less active. However, consider the message you send when volunteers hit a dead end. Even if you do not have or wish to share specific needs on HandsOn Connect please consider maintaining a general volunteer posting so people have a easy way to contact you. You could update that posting as little as once a year. You never know who you might encounter!Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Some of you might remember a special program we had last year during the holidays. Each holiday we receive many calls from many volunteers with big hearts! Often these folks are looking for a place to volunteer on Thanksgiving or Christmas. You might be surprised to learn these specific opportunities are in short supply. Many shelters and kitchens do not need very many volunteers to help them serve holiday meals and the limited spots fill up fast.
But don’t let that discourage you! There are still plenty of great opportunities to serve during the holidays. Broaden your horizons a little and you will be surprised at what you could do to help.
Create a backpack gift for an at risk youth at HOME Youth and Resource Center. Help Fostering Hope serve a meal the week before Thanksgiving. Help Salem’s Riverfront Carousel prepare for their annual festivities. Find the kid in you and help A.C. Gilbert’s Discovery Village at their New Year’s Eve event.
Check out these and other great holiday service opportunities at HandsOnMWV.orgRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
School is in full swing, which reminds us to consider our community’s youth. What role do you play when it comes to the younger population in your neighborhood? Do you ever pause a moment to watch children at play and imagine what it will be like when they are leading our community in the not-so-distant future? Do you take an active, encouraging role when engaging with youth? Or are you more of a quiet, observant bystander?
According to Oregon Mentors—a nonprofit that supports nearly 100 youth mentoring programs across the state—165,000 youth in Oregon need mentors. Mentoring is a simple, yet powerful experience that helps to foster a positive relationship between an adult and a young person.
The Mid-Willamette Valley offers numerous mentoring options: Mid Valley Mentors provides mentoring opportunities for youth and adults who are affected by incarceration. Volunteers can mentor a child whose parent is incarcerated; or a youth who is under supervision through the juvenile justice system. Marion County New Solutions offers mentoring opportunities for youth who are living with mental health issues.
Local schools also offer mentoring options: Highland Elementary and Judson Middle Schools have requests for mentors posted on the HandsOn database. Other schools also have mentoring needs.
For those interested in mentoring, but uncertain about how to build a relationship with a younger person, the HandsOn Network recently offered up nine easy tips:
· Be patient. A mentoring relationship takes time and is an adjustment for both the mentor and the mentee.
· Praise is important. Be positive and sincere in your praise.
· Set boundaries. Mentors play an important role in a mentee’s life, but they are not meant to replace family or social service professionals.
· Try to understand the mentee’s point of view. Your might not share the same viewpoint, but trying to appreciate their opinion shows you care.
· Celebrate differences. Broaden both your horizons.
· Be honest. Everyone makes mistakes. Admit it when you make one and teach your mentee a valuable skill.
· Be there. You can’t fix everything, but listening can go a long way.
· Be positive. Allow for a few “growing” mistakes and help your mentee learn from them.
· Believe. Your faith in a mentee can be the greatest gift you offer.
To find out more about local mentoring options visit: www.handsonmwv.org
Melissa Gibler is the program director for HandsOn Mid-Willamette Valley—an initiative of the United Way. She can be reached at (877) 372-4141, or firstname.lastname@example.org
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Our annual partner services survey has been open and available since 8.23.11. Only 6% of our total partner agencies have completed this survey, which informs how we communicate with you and which services we provide. At this point it looks like there is not a need to offer volunteer management trainings as a series for this fiscal year. We will leave the survey open until 11.09.11 to give you an opportunity to have your voice heard if you want specific trainings to be offered. The survey is available on this link.
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