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Volunteer Management -- Question & Answer Listing  
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Question / Answer

Question:
Are there any confidentialy rules that apply to volunteers in Army-endorsed activities?

Answer:
Yes; volunteers in Army-endorsed activities are bound by Army rules regulating confidentiality and privileged information. However, it is appropriate to violate confidentiality to report spouse or child abuse, and certain types of threats against the government.

Question:
As a Family Readiness Group Leader (or advisor to an FRG), what Army Regulations and/or Department of Defense Regulations should I be aware of?

Answer:
There are a number of official publications and documents that you should be aware of such as: The Army Family Readiness Group Leader's Handbook that is part of the Operation READY materials, AR 608-1 (Army Community Service Center); AR 340-21 (The Army Privacy Program); AR 672-20 (Incentive Awards); DA Forms 4162R and 4713R (for documenting volunteer hours), etc. The Army FRG Leader Handbook has a wealth of information regarding FRG funds, use of official mail for distributing FRG newsletters, and other important information regarding volunteer management and leading an effective FRG. Consult the Legal Services office in your military community regarding updates and changes to regulations governing FRGs.

Question:
Can volunteers be terminated?

Answer:
Although most program managers dread the thought of having to “fire” a volunteer, there are some instances where terminating a volunteer is necessary. Obviously, termination should be used as a last resort, following counseling, corrective action, retraining, etc. However, if the performance of the volunteer is such that the organization’s ability to provide quality service or products is hindered, it is the program manager’s responsibility to correct the situation. The same respect and fair treatment should be given to both paid and unpaid staff members. Be professional about the situation. Meet in private to preserve the dignity of the volunteer and yourself. Be direct and firm. Provide any administration details associated with the termination. It is important to have policies and practices in place that promote accountability and standards among your volunteers and paid staff and the program manager’s job to enforce them.

Question:
How and when should I recognize the volunteers in our organization for their contributions?

Answer:
Most volunteers just want to be treated with respect and given the resources needed to do their job. However, show appreciation to them simply by thanking them periodically or acknowledging a job well done. Recognize them publicly at meetings, highlighting them in your organization’s newsletter, or during an annual Volunteer Appreciation function. Select individuals for special recognition, such as nominating them for “Volunteer of the Month or “Volunteer of the Quarter,” etc. Although most volunteers do not give of their time for awards or expect public recognition, everyone likes to know their efforts are appreciated. The Army designated April as “Volunteer Appreciation” month. During this time, military communities all over the world hold volunteer appreciation ceremonies to recognize the generous efforts of the volunteers in their community. Check with your military volunteer coordinator for more information recognizing your volunteers and about official volunteer awards that are available. The references listed here provide additional information on volunteer management and recognition.

Question:
How can my existing volunteers help me recruit more volunteers?

Answer:
Your existing volunteer force can be your best marketing tool for recruiting new volunteers. If your current volunteers are happy with their own volunteer experience in your organization, it is likely that they will be open to sharing that information to others. Quite often, individuals who are already affiliated with a volunteer organization, club or other association draw in new members. Use your existing volunteers to help identify potential volunteers.

Question:
How dependent upon the continued development of volunteers is a volunteer organization?

Answer:
If an organization is run primarily by volunteers, then it is very dependent upon the continued development of its volunteers' skills. Even if the organization is run primarily by paid personnel, it is wise to include ways to develop your volunteers. Offer opportunities for volunteer development that support the dynamic needs of the organization.

Question:
How do compile an After Action Report?

Answer:
An After Action Report (AAR) is a summary of the actions taken to plan and carry out a certain event. Most AARs are divided into different sections based on the key activities that relate to the specific event. For example, if the event is an annual fund-raising art action, there might be several different committees who worked on different aspects of the event. There might be a committee responsible for contacting artists to support the event and/or donate items to be auctioned or sold; a committee that planned the publicity for the event; one that planned refreshments; one that planned entertainment and decorations; etc. In an AAR, the committee chairperson should write a summary of his/her committee’s actions, to include specific contacts made, their budget, and any problems they had. It should also include the steps the committee took to resolve any issues they had as well as recommendations for the future. An AAR serves two key purposes: it records information about the event for historical purposes, and it serves as a starting point for future planners of the event or similar events. Learn more about After Action Reports from the references listed.

Question:
How important is it for a leader to give equal attention to each team member?

Answer:
It is important for leaders to treat all members fairly, which does not necessarily equate to giving equal attention to each member. Some members may need more attention (direction, encouragement, etc.) than others, but the important thing is to make sure everyone is treated fairly. Showing favoritism to one member over another can breed jealousy and create conflict among the members, which does not support the formation of a unified team.

Question:
How important is it to appropriately match volunteer talents and interests to community needs?

Answer:
Assigning volunteers to positions that match their skills and interest is very important. There are many reasons why individuals volunteer. They may want to fill a void in their lives or perhaps they just want to support their community. In any case, most volunteers will not remain volunteers if they don’t get some kind of satisfaction out of their work. Paid employees often have to perform tasks that they don’t want to do, but your volunteers are not getting paid. While professional volunteers also recognize the need to do some of the less “glamorous” work at times, it is in a leader’s best interest to try to match a volunteer’s skills and interest to the right volunteer position in order to keep them coming back. Additionally, it is important for a volunteer’s roles and responsibilities to be clearly defined. Volunteers should also be evaluated for their performance and recognized for their efforts. Learn more about volunteer management from the resources provided.

Question:
How important is it to have a formal orientation process for volunteers new to our organization?

Answer:
The process of orientation is critical to the organization's ability to attract, develop, and retain a volunteer workforce. Each volunteer should have a position description that includes but is not limited to the position title, supervisor, duties, training, qualifications, time requirement, length of commitment, and evaluation process. Share the mission, vision, goals, objectives and strategies of the organization, with new volunteers as part of their orientation process. It is important for volunteers to have a clear understanding of the organization’s mission and how their efforts will contribute to meeting the organization’s goals.
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