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Serving on the NCHVP board we have all agreed to take a month for our Blog and this is my month. I had a few ideas, but it all changed with an email today. I wish I could take credit for the wonderful article from Energize but I will give credit to Energize for writing and Katherine Barrier at Northeast for finding.
This spoke so loud to me this morning. I just recently had a long time volunteer "retire" from volunteering and will miss her greatly. I know we all lose volunteers for many reasons, so I hope this article will also speak to you!
As volunteer managers, we have the added challenge of keeping really good volunteers coming back year after year simply by us being good volunteer managers. We don’t have raises to dole out; we just have the satisfaction of a job well done, camaraderie, socialization, learning, and other very worthwhile perks of volunteering to offer. We can’t, however, stop the inevitable conclusion of a volunteer and his/her journey...It behooves us to realize that we are not miracle workers, clamping onto volunteers because not to do so would result in some sort of self-imposed failure on our part.
It is time we realize that volunteers journey with us for many diverse reasons and that there will be an eventual completion of their journey, one which is supposed to end at some point, one which we can embrace and be thankful for while they are with us. Volunteers are as varied as any other group. To think that every one of them comes to us for noble, selfless reasons and will stay as long as the work is worthwhile is ignoring the complexities of the individuals we encounter. The work is worthwhile, always. It is the nuance of each and every volunteer’s perception and motivation that alters the outcome, not the work itself.
Granted, some experiences are doomed from the beginning, and sometimes our organizations or we are at fault for that. When that happens, yes, we need to mourn and learn so really good volunteers are not failed in the future. That is what we can beat ourselves up for, not for every single volunteer whose time has come and gone. Do we make mistakes, fail to do right by some volunteers? Absolutely. But do we need to blame ourselves for each and every volunteer that leaves due to circumstances beyond our control?
*****Learn more about volunteer retention and the reasons why volunteers leave in The Volunteer Shelf Life, written and published by Meridian Swift, 2011. Permission is granted to reprint this excerpt. Reprints must include all citations and the statement: "Found in the Energize online library at http://www.energizeinc.com/store."
One of my proudest professional accomplishments was becoming a certified health care volunteer administrator through NCHVP. I collected examples of my work in a portfolio to present to the committee. I also spent time reading manuals about the ins and outs of volunteer management to prepare for the dreaded exam. The Management Development class was my study guide and the committee members my mentors.
After I received my letter stating I was now a CHVM and could use those credentials behind my name, I had the opportunity to share my portfolio with my division Vice President and explain just what we do as volunteer administrators and why it is so important. At the time I was a volunteer coordinator. When the director retired, my being certified gave the Executive Team confidence to promote me into the leadership role of Director.
The most important thing the certification process taught me was to think about why we do what we do. Not to accept that this is the way it has always been done and will always be done. Health care is constantly changing and we must stay up to date. Certification challenges us to articulate what we do, to grow in our profession, and to constantly learn and improve our processes.
I encourage you to sit for certification, you will be glad you did. If you are interested, please let me know at email@example.com. The Certification Committee is in the process of updating the application and it will be distributed shortly. The deadline to receive completed applications is November 1.
I attended an NCHVP (formerly NCSDVS) conference for the first time in 2014. Over those three days, I drank in the advice offered by our various presenters. Two speakers in particular, Tammy Behnke, CVA and Doug Dell Pietra impressed upon me the importance of data collection as a means of communicating the impact of volunteers in the hospital’s over-all mission.
Coincidentally, after I returned from the conference, I was asked to put together a Volunteer Services Department dashboard. To be honest, I didn’t even know what a dashboard was much less what it should contain. Thanks to Google and Youtube, I was able to create a put together a “Dashboards For Dummys” course for myself.
For those who don’t know, a dashboard is an overview of the most important work of a department or project. Usually presented in graph form (resembling a car dashboard), it is a way of presenting a wide variety of information at a glance.
My first efforts were poor - perhaps comical - but they helped me to convert the intangible world of volunteer service into information that our Administrative team could understand. By learning to “speak their language”, I was also learning how to create opportunities for Volunteer Services to be integrated into facility-wide initiatives.
Here are some of the goals which I have included in my dashboards:
· Current year volunteer hours vs. prior year
· Placement vs Resignation
· Volunteer Openings and Assignment by department per week
· Handwashing compliance audits
· Volunteer satisfaction metrics
· Gift Shop sales and profits
· Length of volunteer on-boarding time by days
· Volunteer Service/Gift Shop productivity metrics
· Volunteer placements by departments and locations
· Patient satisfaction scores in key volunteer areas
I have always made an effort to include information in these dashboards that demonstrate the desire of the Volunteer Services Department to share in the hospital- wide efforts to promote efficiency, patient experience and facility safety. It is an opportunity to steer the conversation about the future of the Volunteer Service Department and to drive home the message that volunteers share in the work necessary to ensure the overall success of our hospital.
Ann Taylor, Director Volunteer Services/Gift Shop
Carolina Medical Center, Pineville
One thing I've learned most in my 12 year role as volunteer coordinator at Duke Hospital Auxiliary is that building relationships with volunteers is your only hope of retention. In this volunteer world, many different organizations are competing to gain volunteers for their skills and time. I've noticed that the more I know and understand my volunteer's "story", you are able to communicate with them better and build on to their 'life story". Volunteers want to make connections whether it is socially or emotionally . In a hospital, there is quite a bit of turnover with the patients and staff but, one thing that can remain constant is the volunteer coordinator. The coordinators see the volunteer's weekly faithfulness efforts and acknowledge their presence in such a busy place where faces could get lost.
In conclusion, they are most likely here because they like you. Retention is focused around you so be nice and you will keep the help your hospital needs. :-)
I can’t believe it is summer time already and for the world of many volunteer professionals that means…..junior volunteers!! While we all know that our junior volunteer programs are such a good opportunity for young people to see inside the world of healthcare and help shape their future career decisions, we also know how much extra work these programs require. I don’t know about you all, but I am always looking for new placement areas, projects, educational experiences, etc to make the program more valuable for the students who want to spend their summer with us.
Over the years I have found a few ideas that have proven successful for me and since most of these ideas were learned through our NCHVP family, I thought I would share for anyone looking for new ideas.
Anyway, just a few ideas to add a little fun and meat to your youth volunteer program this summer. I would love to hear your ideas too.