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Press 2 For That Volunteer Question

“Yeah, so, this is Ginny from donor relations,” the voice on the phone sighs. “My next door neighbor’s fourteen year old daughter, April has a volunteer assignment for school. Why they are coming to me, I don’t know but just because I work at a non-profit, they think I’m free to help with all their little projects. When is the next volunteer training, or better yet, you call them. I don’t have time for this nonsense.”

“Hey, I’ve been calling you for an hour. Where are you? Anyway, this is Jazz from administration.”  The voice message plays, Jazz sounding out of breath.  “I need volunteer stats ASAP for a grant for our project that, oh, never mind, I just need some stats and fast to complete this application.  How many hours did volunteers give last quarter? This is the last component on the grant and it’s due today so I need this right away. Call me immediately.”

“Yo, this is Dean in records. The new volunteer, Charles, the one you sent us last month hasn’t been logging any hours, at least I don’t think so. I thought these volunteers knew what they were doing. Anyway, where does he fill out his paperwork again? And should he just make up hours for the time he worked?”

Do you get tired of answering the same questions over and over? While we are conditioned to give that personal touch, our time is pretty precious and continually answering simple questions can eat into our efforts spent cultivating volunteers, forging new recruitment avenues and solving challenges.

Taking a proactive approach can help. Think about all the standard questions repeatedly asked by staff and volunteers. Can these be put into a cheat sheet? Where can these cheat sheets be stored for maximum viewing?

We have to remember that folks don’t necessarily remember something told to them one time. Volunteers will forget specifics taught to them in orientation. Staff is too busy with their own pressing duties to remember the date of the next volunteer training. So, storing these cheat sheets in multiple areas will cut down dramatically on repetitive phone calls.

For volunteers, some visible places to store cheat sheets:

  • on a designated area of your website
  • as reminders in your newsletter
  • posted in your office
  • included in your welcome packet
  • given to volunteer mentors to share with newbies

For staff:

  • on an internal website
  • sent out as a quarterly email blast
  • given to department heads to post
  • at departmental meetings (ask to attend other department’s meetings to answer volunteer related questions, explain policies, intercept issues etc. )
  • on surveys sent to staff
  • posted in your office in case you are not at your desk
  • training dates posted prominently in your office (whiteboard, poster etc)
  • training dates printed on flyers, cards etc and given to staff (great recruitment tool also)

Besides cutting down on repetitive questions, posting core volunteer information creates an informed team of staff and volunteers who will disseminate correct information to potential volunteers. And, if volunteers have to constantly try to pin you down for simple questions, or if they always receive incorrect information from uniformed staff, they will quit out of frustration.

Elevating our vocation includes creating a comprehensive base of information visible to staff and volunteers. The more we polish the fundamentals of our volunteer programs, the more we can build upwards.

So, go ahead and press “2” for that volunteer question. But press “1” to leave the name and contact information of a prospective volunteer.”

Let’s make our systems work for us.