Essay about Successful Practices in Volunteer Development

Essay about Successful Practices in Volunteer Development

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This essay describes successful practices in volunteer development to help organizations make the best use of their volunteers.


In the United States, 44 percent of adults (83.9 million people) volunteer, representing the equivalent of over 9 million full-time employees at a value of $239 billion (Independent Sector 2002). In many organizations, the work of volunteers plays an essential role in effective organizational performance, and thus their training and development are as important as that of paid staff. People volunteer and quit volunteering for a variety of reasons, but studies show that volunteer management and development play an important role. In a UPS Foundation (1999) survey, 40% of volunteers cited poor management practices as a reason for quitting. In a Canadian study (Phillips, Little, and Goodine 2002), the top three ways in which volunteers felt supported were organizational infrastructure, appreciation, and training; personal development ranked only slightly behind appreciation as the most important retention factor. Organizations such as 4-H, the Red Cross, and Big Brothers/Big Sisters have a comprehensive infrastructure and procedures for volunteer development. In smaller organizations, development of both paid and unpaid staff is a challenge. This essay describes successful practices in volunteer development to help organizations make the best use of their volunteers.

The Development Process

Development should be a comprehensive, continuous process through which individuals can extend, update, and adapt their knowledge, skills, and abilities to enhance their performance and potential. It may include training—instruction in specific skills for particular tasks, but development has a broader, long-t...


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...ctor." Journal of Volunteer Administration 19, no. 4 (2001): 15-20.

Standerfer, C. Why Serve? Understanding Service Orientations of AmeriCorps*VISTA Members. National Service Fellows Report. Washington, DC: Corporation for National and Community Service, 2002. http://www.etr.org/NSRC/pdfs/fellows/standerfer.pdf

UPS Foundation. Volunteer Impact Initiative Report. Atlanta, GA: UPS Foundation, 1999. http://www.ups.com/news/pdf/1999report.pdf

Voluntary Sector National Training Organisation. National Occupational Standards for the Recruitment and Management of Volunteers. London, England: VSNTO, 2002. http://www.voluntarysectorskills.org.uk/

Volunteering Australia Inc. National Standards for Involving Volunteers in Not for Profit Organisations. 2d ed. Melbourne: Volunteering Australia, 2001. http://www.volunteeringaustralia.org/publications/standards.shtml

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