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Special Considerations in The Supervision of Volunteers

ASPCA, National Shelter Outreach


Special Considerations in The Supervision of Volunteers

  • Wasting a volunteer’s time by giving him/her nothing meaningful to do has much worse repercussions than wasting an employee’s time.
  • Volunteers deserve clearly designated workspaces, including storage space for papers, supplies, and correspondence.
  • Volunteers need accessibility to a supervisor or someone who can answer questions during the volunteer’s work shift or when he/she telephones from the field.
  • Supervising volunteers involves instant accountability — there is much less margin for mistreatment than with salaried staff.
  • Some socializing is appropriate as a demonstration of friendliness, as long as it doesn’t inhibit productivity.
  • The key to best utilizing of volunteers (who are part-timers) is to analyze the task to be done; break jobs down into segments that can be accomplished in two to five hour shifts — and list instructions in sequence for doing each task.
  • Recognition — both thanks and acknowledgment of input — should be continuous.
  • Courtesy is a major form of recognition.
  • You can recognize the work of all good volunteers by taking action to correct the poor performance of some volunteers.
  • Create a self-fulfilling prophecy: expect the best, most skilled performance from volunteers and see what happens.

Adapted from Energize (c) 1987

© 2001 ASPCA

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New York, NY 10128-6804

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