Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => All In A Day's Work => Topic started by: despedina on April 14, 2013, 03:04:32 PM

Title: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: despedina on April 14, 2013, 03:04:32 PM
I'm Manager of an area of Girl Scouts in my area. Basically I manage the Girl Scout Troops of 2 public school districts and a catholic school.  I was asked to take this position a year ago. In general, I've enjoyed it.  Our (mine and my team's) problem is that we are having a difficult time getting troop leaders to attend the monthly meetings.  I understand things come up, but we've told them they can send an alternate parent or co-leader in their place or just tell us they can't attend so we can get them info and several leaders completely ignore us. I guess they think they should do their own thing but this really isn't how this works.  Meetings are necessary to get info on changes, reports due, and upcoming fun events. We've had parents complaining this year that the leaders aren't getting them the info on the events, or that their leaders are flaking out on their duties.  We email out all event flyers and meeting minutes but somehow info still is not getting across.  In an effort to figure out what's going on, I sent out some questions to all 88 of our email addresses to see what our leader's and other volunteer's challenges are and I only got 12 responses.  Very discouraging.   
I truly appreciate that these people have taken on the responsibility of being leaders but if they are not fulfilling their obligations they are really not doing the job.  Our District manger (who handles the entire county and is a paid employee of Girl Scouts) says we should be requiring that leaders attend 4 meetings min per school year. I think that is reasonable (since some of us more active volunteers are going to several meetings a month for events, etc) and want to send a letter out to everyone stating this.  Any ideas on how to say "please take care of your responsibilities"?  Maybe some of you are involved in scouts also and have some ideas also. Thanks!
Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: Black Delphinium on April 14, 2013, 03:24:08 PM
I will admit to having never lead a troop, but is there some way to equate lack of attendance to losing qualifications for important stuff(like cookie sales or badge eligibility)?
Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: magiccat26 on April 14, 2013, 03:35:22 PM
Sorry, but I'm a GS Leader and I do not attend the meetings.  When I signed up to become a leader, I was never told I would be required to attend the SU leader meetings and honestly I cannot.  They have the leader meeting on the same night as my troop meetings.  None of my parents are interested in attending and my co-leader is needed to help with our troop.

I attend all required training sessions, I turn in my paperwork and I read the SU email/newsletter, but I will not switch my meeting night.  I have to pick the night that works best for my troop, so that's what I did.

On top of being a GS Leader, I work 50 hours a week outside the home, attend all my daughter's school functions, take my daughter to her extra-curricular activities (she rides horses, so we are at the barn 3 nights each week, plus horse shows one weekend every month) and manage my household. 

I don't have time to go to another meeting at night that RARELY offers me any benefit.  Most of what is discussed at the meeting could easily be communicated via email.  They have my address if they need to get me paperwork (and honestly, electronic works best...time for GS to come ou of the dark ages and stop killing trees with all the paper they print).  Some leaders don't have child care and cannot/will not bring their kids.  I found that the meetings run 1.5 hours with only 10 minutes of good content and 80 minutes of filler (ice breakers, reading from memos, girls telling you about their latest event, etc).

GS leaders ARE volunteers.  If you have expectations in your SU that leaders must attend meetings (mandatory) then they need to be told his before they are allowed to start a troop. I would have declined to be a leader if that condition was placed on me.  It's bad enough that GS USA keeps changing the rules and the programming with very little input from those of us who have to use it (My girls HATE the journeys and want their patches back).

I would suggest you find a way to get the information to your leaders without forcing them to attend meetings.

I apologize for sounding bitter, but I've been a leader for 5 years (since my girls were in Kindergarden) and have become increasingly frustrated with all the demands made by council and our SU.  I love my troop, I love working with my girls, all of my girls love our troop and I have not lost a single girl (except the two who moved out of our area).  So I know I'm a good leader, but I have been tempted to quit more than once due to the buracracy of the organization itself.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: Margo on April 14, 2013, 03:44:09 PM
Would it be possible to contact the leaders directly, on an individual basis, to ask what could be done to make it more likely that they would attend the meetings? Or what alternatives methods of sharing information would work for them?

I think if they're volunteers you can't *make* them come to the meetings, and it may be easier and more effective to change what you/management do than trying to change 88 other people, all of whom are volunteers and probably very busy.

(Not a critisism of you, you're doing a tricky job)

Would it be possible to provide something at the meeting which would make them more attractive to troop leaders? Perhaps combining them with training?
Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: Snooks on April 14, 2013, 03:55:29 PM
Do you go to their meetings?  If they know you they might be more willing to interact with you.  I know that part of the reason I started attending our quarterly district meeting was because I already knew the person who was the district leader and it felt like more of a personal snub than when I didn't know the leader.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: despedina on April 14, 2013, 05:02:13 PM
Snooks, one of the ideas to get info to the leaders is that the service team (myself and 4 others) will be "visiting" the meetings of the various troops in order to reach the parents.  We plan on starting that next year. 

Magiccat, I'm sorry that you feel your Service Unit does not provide any useful information and find it difficult to attend the meetings. Have you passed this on to your unit manager? Frankly I'd love to hear some feedback from those that do not attend, however when I try to reach out I get no responses.  Phone calls and emails go unanswered.  Its the disappointed parents we're encountering that's the worst. I have one leader that I'm about at my wits end with due to parent complaints, but at least she attends some of the meetings.  I honestly do not hold these meetings to hear myself talk I promise you.  When only 8-10 people of the 88 volunteers we have registered show up I feel like I'm wasting my time. Then when we have events everyone shows up to attend, then some complain when things aren't to their liking.  Usually its because we have so little manpower that we can't do everything that the parents expect. We use the meetings to also recruit help for events, so if people don't show up, we get the same people over and over, and we are spread thin. I also work a 40-45 hour work week and have 2 sons in other activities and my daughter is also active in Band. 
From what I understand leaders are being told that meetings are mandatory and told what days they are up front. We always tell everyone that if they can't attend we will figure something out and that they should contact us so they aren't missing anything.  I don't think that's unreasonable.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: *inviteseller on April 14, 2013, 05:05:48 PM
When I was coach of youth soccer, we were required to go to the meeting at the beginning of the season to pick up our rosters and learn about any new rule changes and ask any questions, then there was a meeting halfway through the season to go over any issues we were having (refs, field conditions, parents) and then a final meeting after the season to do a basic post mortem on the season and then there was the winter coaches clinic on a Saturday morning every February.    Yes, it was a pain...I'm a single parent, was heavily involved in the PTA and my DD's classroom activities, soccer took up one night a week and part of the weekend along with dealing with parents during the week  and I worked 45 hrs a week, but if they tried to send everything via email, people don't always read them and it was better to talk in  person and have a solution offered instead of having a reply all fest going back and forth.  There was 75 coaches/asst coaches in our very large league and these meetings were vital so, as much as it took away some of my precious free time to do, I went.  I did however run into parents who thought "hey, I;ll be the cool parent and sign up to coach" and they never looked at the responsibilities of it (scheduling parents for concession duty and team snack was the worst!)  and the time it would require and they flaked and had poorly run teams because they didn't go to the meetings, the clinic, or understand what was required.  If you are going to volunteer (and I have the utmost respect for those of us who do because we get alot of crap from parents about how things should be done but they never step up to help), but you have to realize it isn't just showing up Saturday morning at a field and standing on the team side clapping your hands!  And magiccat26, try as you might, you can't be 2 places at once and if they were to say something, it would, IMO be their responsibility to change their meeting, not yours!  I will say, with my second DD, I am so burned about volunteering that I am content to be very much behind the scenes, but if necessary I would step up again with the full understanding of the work involved.  If these troop leaders are not even responding to basic correspondence, I would question how they are running their troops.  Is it possible to visit their troop meetings and catch them there to have a chat after? 
Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: GreenBird on April 14, 2013, 05:08:53 PM
If the main purpose of these meetings is to distribute information, can you put up a website that accomplishes that goal?  Have a page for news and changes, a calendar of upcoming events, volunteer opportunities, a page for meeting minutes, downloadable flyers, etc.  This way leaders can access the information when they have time, and also troop members can access the information directly without having to completely rely on their leaders for details. 

Monthly meetings feel pretty frequent - if you can decrease the frequency of the in-person meetings by accomplishing some of the goals other ways, maybe people will be more willing to attend.   
Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: Poppea on April 14, 2013, 05:43:00 PM
Sorry, but I'm a GS Leader and I do not attend the meetings.  When I signed up to become a leader, I was never told I would be required to attend the SU leader meetings and honestly I cannot.  They have the leader meeting on the same night as my troop meetings.  None of my parents are interested in attending and my co-leader is needed to help with our troop.

I attend all required training sessions, I turn in my paperwork and I read the SU email/newsletter, but I will not switch my meeting night.  I have to pick the night that works best for my troop, so that's what I did.

On top of being a GS Leader, I work 50 hours a week outside the home, attend all my daughter's school functions, take my daughter to her extra-curricular activities (she rides horses, so we are at the barn 3 nights each week, plus horse shows one weekend every month) and manage my household. 

I don't have time to go to another meeting at night that RARELY offers me any benefit.  Most of what is discussed at the meeting could easily be communicated via email.  They have my address if they need to get me paperwork (and honestly, electronic works best...time for GS to come ou of the dark ages and stop killing trees with all the paper they print).  Some leaders don't have child care and cannot/will not bring their kids.  I found that the meetings run 1.5 hours with only 10 minutes of good content and 80 minutes of filler (ice breakers, reading from memos, girls telling you about their latest event, etc).

GS leaders ARE volunteers.  If you have expectations in your SU that leaders must attend meetings (mandatory) then they need to be told his before they are allowed to start a troop. I would have declined to be a leader if that condition was placed on me.  It's bad enough that GS USA keeps changing the rules and the programming with very little input from those of us who have to use it (My girls HATE the journeys and want their patches back).

I would suggest you find a way to get the information to your leaders without forcing them to attend meetings.

I apologize for sounding bitter, but I've been a leader for 5 years (since my girls were in Kindergarden) and have become increasingly frustrated with all the demands made by council and our SU.  I love my troop, I love working with my girls, all of my girls love our troop and I have not lost a single girl (except the two who moved out of our area).  So I know I'm a good leader, but I have been tempted to quit more than once due to the buracracy of the organization itself.

I agree.  When I was a leader, I was also working 30 hours per week, was a room mother in 2 classrooms, was on a charity ball committee and other volunteer gigs.  No one wanted to go to the SU meetings because it was basically sitting in a room listening to someone read stuff off a sheet of paper.  I know how to read.  There was no reason my physical presence was required.  So no one went. 

If people aren't attending the meetings there are two possibilities.  One-there is something wrong with the attendees or two -there is something wrong with the meetings.  You can't change the attendees, but you can shorten the meetings, make them less frequent, and email packets before hand. 

ETA there is also an institutional problem here.  GS has merged several service units together in my area and where once the meetings were very local and not so big, now they are like your unit.  There is a disconnect.  GS as an organization tends to make changes from the top without much input from the field. 

GS national plays some pretty low tricks too.  We has a council in our state that was in debt.  Our council was in the black.  Nationals solution????  They merged our two councils, gave us the debt, and sold one of our camps to payoff the debt.  A camp that our GS had bought during the depression with nickels and dimes saved by the girls themselves. 

Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: despedina on April 14, 2013, 06:41:33 PM
Thanks for the input. the idea of a facebook or some sort of web page has been discussed at length lately also. The issue is that council has so many rules about web interaction we have to be careful. Of course, we've asked for info on how we can make the website a reality but are running into delays and "I'll get back to you" etc.

Again, my main concern are the parents that are complaining that they are not getting info about events etc, and we email the flyers to the entire Service Unit multiple times a month reminding on deadlines and everything.  Part of me thinks if they come to the monthly meetings it will be more front in their minds but maybe not.  There is, however an issue with communication which we are trying to fix.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: kherbert05 on April 14, 2013, 06:44:49 PM
The problems magiccat26 listed is why my campus no longer has a girl scout troop. We had one for 1 year and the teacher running it said no more.

1 - Is there some other way to get out the information?

2. I think your staff traveling to the troops is a good idea you need to reach out to them.

3. Is your meeting place and time convient to the volunteers? (The teacher at my school would have needed a teleporter or a TARTIS to get to the meetings - their solution take off work early). You mentioned 2 school districts and a Catholic school are they near each other? Could you have the meetings at district facilities instead of your headquarters?

4. If the districts aren't close to each other could you use skype or Google Hangouts? Have District 1 people meet there, District 2 meet there, Catholic school meet there, you at headquarters all connected through the internet.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: Poppea on April 14, 2013, 07:05:30 PM
Thanks for the input. the idea of a facebook or some sort of web page has been discussed at length lately also. The issue is that council has so many rules about web interaction we have to be careful. Of course, we've asked for info on how we can make the website a reality but are running into delays and "I'll get back to you" etc.

Again, my main concern are the parents that are complaining that they are not getting info about events etc, and we email the flyers to the entire Service Unit multiple times a month reminding on deadlines and everything.  Part of me thinks if they come to the monthly meetings it will be more front in their minds but maybe not.  There is, however an issue with communication which we are trying to fix.

No excuse for this in 2013.  Any fliers sent to the leaders should be able to be posted on a website.  Maybe if you had a facebook page, and all you posted was the informational sheets?  I assume that they would already have been approved.

Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: magiccat26 on April 14, 2013, 07:41:28 PM
I bet if they were willing to talk you would find out how disenfranchised many of the leaders feel.  I think it's difficult for those who have a passion for scouts (and are heavily involved like the OP) to see it from the standard volunteer's POV.

I used to attend every leader meeting when I first got involved.  Not because I had to, but because I was hoping for some guidance on what to do.  The training offered by Council was really not helpful.  The programming offered was dull (my girls never enjoyed it), so I was looking for help from other leaders to find brainstorm and get ideas from.

The leader meetings were more disappointing than the "training".  It was a bunch of people reading us memos from council, telling us all the things we couldn't do, and trying to make us play team building games.  meanwhile, I was missing dinner and time with my family. 

So, last year, when the broke our SU into 3 new SU, the leader meeting was moved to the same night as my troop meetings.  I approached the SU leader and her solution was, oh, we'll cant you change your meeting night?  Nope.  My troop had established its meeting night years ago.  My parents planned their daughters activities knowing that GS would always be on that night.  So, I stopped attending.

When I signed up to be a leader I was assured that I would have control of my troop and support from my SU and council.  The reality is, I'm getting CONSTANT pressure from my SU to add more girls to my troop.  We're very happy with our small group of girls.  We're able to do more because I only have to plan for 10 instead if trying to get enough materials and meeting space for the 20 or 30 they think I should have.  When I suggest they get another parent to lead another troop (if tere is that much interest), I'm told they cannot find anyone to volunteer.  I wonder why?

I've had two serious issues pop up over the 5 years and I turned to my SU for help.  They directed me to council who agreed it was a big deal, but then NEVER contacted me with the promised help or a solution.  So, I ended up having to deal with it myself.

After all that, I have as little interaction with GS outside my troop as possible.  I turn in my paperwork on time, I follow the rules, but I do my own thing.  My parents are happy, my girls are happy, and I avoid the drama that comes from higher up the food chain.

Oh, and don't get me started on the "exciting new changes" to the cookie program next year.   ::). My cookie Mom and I are already discussing how we're going to deal with that one.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: GreenBird on April 14, 2013, 08:10:41 PM
If you can't get a website going right away, can you start an email list that anyone can sign up for (including parents) that sends out a monthly update highlighting events and news?  Make it something any participant can sign up for, and this way people looking for information will have a source. 

I'd try to stick with monthly emails rather than multiple emails per month - if people get too many emails they'll tune them out.  It's a balancing act!  But a monthly newsletter seems like a good place to start.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: Oh Joy on April 14, 2013, 08:29:07 PM
I spent many years as a volunteer leader of volunteers - I feel your pain.  In many ways.

Consumers vote with their dollars, and volunteers vote with their hours.

Is there any way that you can use this problem/symptom as a springboard to come up with an innovative change to the way things are done?

Best wishes.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: cicero on April 14, 2013, 08:37:02 PM
Have you considered that perhaps this is just TMI too much info, too many emails? Why do you need to send out so many emails and flyers and minutes? Think of your recipient. They are parents, and most probably hold down ft jobs, and are likely to have other involvement s and commitments. They aren't going to read weekly /lenghtly emails on top of that. You have to consolidate and send out maybe one email a month, and make it a good one. I work for a huge non profits and our volunteers all serve on boards of other orgs. We are * very* careful about emailing because we know that they don't read every word.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: TootsNYC on April 14, 2013, 08:39:22 PM
I spent many years as a volunteer leader of volunteers - I feel your pain.  In many ways.

Consumers vote with their dollars, and volunteers vote with their hours.

Is there any way that you can use this problem/symptom as a springboard to come up with an innovative change to the way things are done?

Best wishes.

If they don't attend, it's because there's little of value in it for them.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: magiccat26 on April 14, 2013, 08:55:41 PM
Toots is correct.  In any organization, most people think WIIFM?  (What's in it for me?). If you really want volunteers to attend, you need to give them something that they want. 

I stopped attending and didn't even attempt to find a solution because I find no value in the meetings.  I don't make suggestions anymore (when asked) because they never listened or made changes.  You may not get feedback from your leaders because they have had similar experiences to mine and have given up.

So, change how your meetings are run try new things and publish an agenda that answers WIIFM. 

The worst thing you can do to volunteers is try to force them to do something.  Trust me, you will start losing volunteers if you approach it with the attitude of, " This is your job and you MUST do this thing you don't want to do or else!"

I signed on to be a troop leader and provide my girls with a positive troop experience.  To have fun and learn leadership and life long skills.  To empower them to become amazing, independent thinkers. 

If you try to tell me my job is to give up time with my girls and my family to attend meetings that don't benefit me or them, I'll just quit.  It's not what I signed up for and I don't have to do it.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: despedina on April 15, 2013, 06:44:13 AM
Thanks for all the good ideas.  I don't want to require anyone to do something they really don't want to do for sure.  It wasn't an issue until we started getting parent complaints.  We just got the roster of all email addresses from council (parents/girls included). Our Communication Chair is working through them to add to an updated email list but she has to do it with her normal job just like the rest of us so its not quick (they didn't send it in Excel format which would have been easy to email from).

We've also discussed offering training after meetings, but are wondering if it would be too late. We try to keep meetings under an hour but if there is a lot of info or questions it can be difficult. My daughter comes to babysit which I feel is helpful to some.

As far as meeting location, we are in a church central between the schools but I admit its closer to the catholic school and one of the districts.  The other district is about 10 miles away (we are in a very rural area, and the other district is literally down a windy road in the middle of the woods with no nearby town).  Our schools don't have free wifi and neither does the church we meet in so its difficult to do a web meeting.  Many families don't have internet still either due to cost or that it just doesn't exist for them.

Magiccat, what are these new cookie changes you've heard about?  I sincerely hope its not something more off putting to our leaders.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: magiccat26 on April 15, 2013, 06:59:06 AM
In our council, they have announced that we will now have to pre purchase our cookies.  Out girls will have "cookies in hand" to sell.  It may sound like a good idea, but it means that troops will have to guess how many cookies they can sell and hope they can sell them all.  Otherwise the troop will have to pay for any cookies that are not sold.  Currently we cannot return unsold cookies.  So, small troops in rural areas, like mine, often end up losing some money on unsold boxes.  My girls only average 50 boxes each.  We will now have to guess what flavors people will want in advance and hope we can find enough buyers.  This is one of the reasons I refuse to do booth sales and now they are really putting us in a corner.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: MNdragonlady on April 15, 2013, 08:20:13 AM
In our council, they have announced that we will now have to pre purchase our cookies.  Out girls will have "cookies in hand" to sell.  It may sound like a good idea, but it means that troops will have to guess how many cookies they can sell and hope they can sell them all.  Otherwise the troop will have to pay for any cookies that are not sold.  Currently we cannot return unsold cookies.  So, small troops in rural areas, like mine, often end up losing some money on unsold boxes.  My girls only average 50 boxes each.  We will now have to guess what flavors people will want in advance and hope we can find enough buyers.  This is one of the reasons I refuse to do booth sales and now they are really putting us in a corner.

Are you pre-purchasing, or just pre-ordering? We've been getting our cookies up-front in our council now for three years. Overall, it's gone pretty well. We have some time in which we can return unsold boxes, although there is a final date after which our troop is responsible for whatever cookies we have on hand. However, we do not front the money; it is collected along the way as we sell them.

Personally, we've seen an uptick of about 10-15% more sales, because people get the cookies immediately. I even have families who will come back to me partway through the sale and get more; that would never have happened under the old system.

Anyhow, if you want to PM me about our experience, let me know. I'm not the cookie manager or troop leader, but I did have 2 scouts in the house 2 of the years under this system, so I have some ideas about how to do it in a low-stress way.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: cicero on April 15, 2013, 08:20:55 AM
Thanks for all the good ideas.  I don't want to require anyone to do something they really don't want to do for sure.  It wasn't an issue until we started getting parent complaints.  We just got the roster of all email addresses from council (parents/girls included). Our Communication Chair is working through them to add to an updated email list but she has to do it with her normal job just like the rest of us so its not quick (they didn't send it in Excel format which would have been easy to email from).
< just referring to the mailing list, with a little work you can turn a word list into a excel table. >
Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: RebeccainGA on April 15, 2013, 08:58:14 AM
Thanks for all the good ideas.  I don't want to require anyone to do something they really don't want to do for sure.  It wasn't an issue until we started getting parent complaints.  We just got the roster of all email addresses from council (parents/girls included). Our Communication Chair is working through them to add to an updated email list but she has to do it with her normal job just like the rest of us so its not quick (they didn't send it in Excel format which would have been easy to email from).
< just referring to the mailing list, with a little work you can turn a word list into a excel table. >
All you have to do is use the 'text to columns' feature in Excel - it's dead easy. PM me if you need help!
Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: wolfie on April 15, 2013, 09:40:28 AM
totally off topic but I am in upstate ny and can never find Girl Scout cookies. Anyplace I can go to find someone to sell them to be? Am I too late for this year??
Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: Oh Joy on April 15, 2013, 10:00:03 AM
I spent many years as a volunteer leader of volunteers - I feel your pain.  In many ways.

Consumers vote with their dollars, and volunteers vote with their hours.

Is there any way that you can use this problem/symptom as a springboard to come up with an innovative change to the way things are done?

Best wishes.

If they don't attend, it's because there's little of value in it for them.

Exactly.  When you have a group of people who have proven themselves to be glad to volunteer, but they consistently aren't responsive to a particular request, there's a reason.  Sometimes it's appropriate to request it as a pretty-please favor, sometimes it's time to 'pull rank,' and sometimes a response to the unsaid is best...changing the request/need itself.

Sorry that we're giving you systemic answers and not the tactical response you requested, OP.  Please keep us posted!
Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: Yvaine on April 15, 2013, 10:16:51 AM
I spent many years as a volunteer leader of volunteers - I feel your pain.  In many ways.

Consumers vote with their dollars, and volunteers vote with their hours.

Is there any way that you can use this problem/symptom as a springboard to come up with an innovative change to the way things are done?

Best wishes.

If they don't attend, it's because there's little of value in it for them.

Exactly.  When you have a group of people who have proven themselves to be glad to volunteer, but they consistently aren't responsive to a particular request, there's a reason.  Sometimes it's appropriate to request it as a pretty-please favor, sometimes it's time to 'pull rank,' and sometimes a response to the unsaid is best...changing the request/need itself.

Sorry that we're giving you systemic answers and not the tactical response you requested, OP.  Please keep us posted!

Yes, this. There are all kinds of reasons why meetings have been ill-attended in various organizations I've belonged to. Sometimes the meetings dragged on for four hours and were filled with petty bickering. Sometimes they were bogged down in rah-rah "team-building" exercises that no one really wanted to do. Sometimes they were at a location or time that didn't work for anyone. But if no one comes, there is some reason. The trick is to diagnose it.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: camlan on April 15, 2013, 10:18:29 AM
totally off topic but I am in upstate ny and can never find Girl Scout cookies. Anyplace I can go to find someone to sell them to be? Am I too late for this year??

The upstate NY Girl Scout that I know sells cookies in early January. So I think that cookie sales are over in your area. However, sometimes a troop orders extra for "booth sales," so you might try contacting the local Girl Scout Council to see if there are any troops in your area who might have cookies left.

They have a FAQ here: http://www.girlscouts.org/program/gs_cookies/faq.asp (http://www.girlscouts.org/program/gs_cookies/faq.asp)

And if you live anywhere near Rochester, I can hook you up for next year, if you'd like.  ;)
Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: *inviteseller on April 15, 2013, 12:18:22 PM
When I was a Girl Scout (back in the stone age), we got our cookies up front, each girl was given 2 cartons of each kind and set loose to sell.  If we needed more, they had them for us.  My next door neighbor was a 400 +lb woman who loved food.  She loved to cook, she loved to bake, she loved to eat and she looooved me the day I knocked on her door.  Between her and my teenage sister and her friends, I was top cookie seller of the troop.   The problem with the volunteering is there are so few of us and we are spread thin...try and find a mom involved in just one of her kids activities...it is usually multiple things, plus jobs or school, so they don't have time for all these meetings, but on the other hand, if you aren't going to the meetings, then you might be missing information that is vital.  It is very catch 22
Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: nyoprinces on April 15, 2013, 12:29:05 PM
When you emailed the parents asking for feedback, did you offer specific options for them to respond to, or did you leave it open-ended? It can be very difficult to send constructive feedback, especially when you're feeling like things won't change no matter what you do, if the question is open-ended. It can be hard to feel like you're able to say something constructive without getting too negative.

On the other hand, if you can present something closer to a survey, with potential shortcomings acknowledged upfront and potential solutions offered as options, you might get a better response. So, for example, using some of the issues magiccat has brought up, instead of saying, "What can we do better?" you could ask for very specific feedback on very specific issues. Such as,

1) Meeting frequency

Would you be more or less likely to be able to make time to come to a meeting if they were less frequent? If we had meetings every other month, or quarterly, would it be easier to make it a priority? If we offered an alternate time for the same meeting content, would that help you be able to schedule time to come?

2) Meeting length & content

Do you feel like the meetings have enough useful content for you? Would you prefer more "meat" and less ice-breaker type filler, or do you enjoy the chance to visit with other leaders? Of the meeting components a, b, c, and d (where those are the things you do in a regular meeting - ice breakers, minutes, event planning, etc.), which would you prefer to minimize or eliminate altogether?

3) Email distribution

Do you feel like there is content addressed in the meetings that would be better served as an email announcement? Do you feel like you already receive too many emails from us?


Anyway, those are just some samples of more specific questions you could ask that might prompt some who do have issues to be able to respond without feeling like their problem is too big to know where to begin, or like they'd be getting too critical if they were to address the things they've been thinking about.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: kherbert05 on April 15, 2013, 12:53:45 PM
Something my school uses to help keep parents informed is Remind 101 (https://www.remind101.com/). Parents/leaders can choose to sign up and you can send out reminders about events, requests for volunteers, and other communication. You can maintain different lists. You can send out a message via the web or through an app on IOS and I think Android Apps. My parents love it because many of them don't check their e-mail often. Most of my parents prefer to be contacted by text. If the problem with e-mail reminders is that your leaders and parents can't get on line often this is an option they could you. (They can also sign up to receive your text via e-mail if they have a low text limit or high text cost.)
Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: Poppea on April 15, 2013, 02:37:21 PM
I bet if they were willing to talk you would find out how disenfranchised many of the leaders feel.  I think it's difficult for those who have a passion for scouts (and are heavily involved like the OP) to see it from the standard volunteer's POV.

I used to attend every leader meeting when I first got involved.  Not because I had to, but because I was hoping for some guidance on what to do.  The training offered by Council was really not helpful.  The programming offered was dull (my girls never enjoyed it), so I was looking for help from other leaders to find brainstorm and get ideas from.

The leader meetings were more disappointing than the "training".  It was a bunch of people reading us memos from council, telling us all the things we couldn't do, and trying to make us play team building games.  meanwhile, I was missing dinner and time with my family. 

So, last year, when the broke our SU into 3 new SU, the leader meeting was moved to the same night as my troop meetings.  I approached the SU leader and her solution was, oh, we'll cant you change your meeting night?  Nope.  My troop had established its meeting night years ago.  My parents planned their daughters activities knowing that GS would always be on that night.  So, I stopped attending.

When I signed up to be a leader I was assured that I would have control of my troop and support from my SU and council.  The reality is, I'm getting CONSTANT pressure from my SU to add more girls to my troop.  We're very happy with our small group of girls.  We're able to do more because I only have to plan for 10 instead if trying to get enough materials and meeting space for the 20 or 30 they think I should have.  When I suggest they get another parent to lead another troop (if tere is that much interest), I'm told they cannot find anyone to volunteer.  I wonder why?

I've had two serious issues pop up over the 5 years and I turned to my SU for help.  They directed me to council who agreed it was a big deal, but then NEVER contacted me with the promised help or a solution.  So, I ended up having to deal with it myself.

After all that, I have as little interaction with GS outside my troop as possible.  I turn in my paperwork on time, I follow the rules, but I do my own thing.  My parents are happy, my girls are happy, and I avoid the drama that comes from higher up the food chain.

Oh, and don't get me started on the "exciting new changes" to the cookie program next year.   ::). My cookie Mom and I are already discussing how we're going to deal with that one.

I have very similar stories.  We used to refer to the money we sent to GS as our "danegelt", because we got nothing from them, but paid to keep them form bothering us.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: Eeep! on April 15, 2013, 03:27:50 PM
When you emailed the parents asking for feedback, did you offer specific options for them to respond to, or did you leave it open-ended? It can be very difficult to send constructive feedback, especially when you're feeling like things won't change no matter what you do, if the question is open-ended. It can be hard to feel like you're able to say something constructive without getting too negative.

On the other hand, if you can present something closer to a survey, with potential shortcomings acknowledged upfront and potential solutions offered as options, you might get a better response. So, for example, using some of the issues magiccat has brought up, instead of saying, "What can we do better?" you could ask for very specific feedback on very specific issues. Such as,

1) Meeting frequency

Would you be more or less likely to be able to make time to come to a meeting if they were less frequent? If we had meetings every other month, or quarterly, would it be easier to make it a priority? If we offered an alternate time for the same meeting content, would that help you be able to schedule time to come?

2) Meeting length & content

Do you feel like the meetings have enough useful content for you? Would you prefer more "meat" and less ice-breaker type filler, or do you enjoy the chance to visit with other leaders? Of the meeting components a, b, c, and d (where those are the things you do in a regular meeting - ice breakers, minutes, event planning, etc.), which would you prefer to minimize or eliminate altogether?

3) Email distribution

Do you feel like there is content addressed in the meetings that would be better served as an email announcement? Do you feel like you already receive too many emails from us?


Anyway, those are just some samples of more specific questions you could ask that might prompt some who do have issues to be able to respond without feeling like their problem is too big to know where to begin, or like they'd be getting too critical if they were to address the things they've been thinking about.

I think this is a good suggestion.  If it's not against rules,  you could even use something like Survey Monkey that would make the questions even easier to answer.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: Vicki on April 16, 2013, 04:15:41 PM
Thanks for all the good ideas.  I don't want to require anyone to do something they really don't want to do for sure. It wasn't an issue until we started getting parent complaints.  We just got the roster of all email addresses from council (parents/girls included). Our Communication Chair is working through them to add to an updated email list but she has to do it with her normal job just like the rest of us so its not quick (they didn't send it in Excel format which would have been easy to email from).

We've also discussed offering training after meetings, but are wondering if it would be too late. We try to keep meetings under an hour but if there is a lot of info or questions it can be difficult. My daughter comes to babysit which I feel is helpful to some.

As far as meeting location, we are in a church central between the schools but I admit its closer to the catholic school and one of the districts.  The other district is about 10 miles away (we are in a very rural area, and the other district is literally down a windy road in the middle of the woods with no nearby town).  Our schools don't have free wifi and neither does the church we meet in so its difficult to do a web meeting.  Many families don't have internet still either due to cost or that it just doesn't exist for them.

Magiccat, what are these new cookie changes you've heard about?  I sincerely hope its not something more off putting to our leaders.

See the bolded above - while you might have an attendance problem at your meetings, what the bolded is is a triangulation problem. 

The parents have a problem with the troop leader - either because the troop leader isn't getting information about council events, because the troop leader is too busy to get to your meetings and get the information, because the troop leader doesn't think that the council events are important or valuable or because what that parent wants out of the scouting experiance isn't what the troop their daughter is enrolled in is offering.  In any case - rather than addressing the troop leader directly they are trying to get you to do it for them.

The only answer you need is "have you talked to your troop leader about that?"  I promise you the answer is no because if they had they would have found out:
1. The troop leader either doesn't have time for Service Unit meetings or doesn't find them valuable - in which case the parent can offer to represent the troop and get the information
2. The troop leader isn't interested in service unit program offerings - in which case the parent can have a conversation about why
3. The troop leader is burned out on scouting and doesn't want to lead anymore - in which case the parent can step up and lead the troop
4. What the parent wants out of the scouting experiance is different from what most of the rest of the troop wants from the scouting experiance - in which case the parent should find another troop.

That doesn't mean that you don't need to address the fact that your volunteers aren't finding your meetings valuable enough to make time for them - but fixing the meetings won't really deal with complaining parents - they'll just move on to another complaint -

The first lesson of group dynamics is don't triangulate - if someone has a problem with someone else don't get between them - you need to get out of the triangle that the parents are trying to put you in between them and the leader of their daughter's troop - the easiest way to do that is to tell them that they need to talk directly to their troop leader.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: rashea on April 17, 2013, 06:42:42 AM
Can you have some of the meetings using a call in phone number? Would that help? Does it have to be the leaders, or can another parent step in and represent the troop?


I think if you want to change things up, you need to tell them you understand that they associate these meetings with a lot of work and not a lot of good information, and then tell them how you're changing that. But, you have to tell them you acknowledge what has been wrong first.

I'll also tell you that I worked on a grant where we had regular conference type meetings. They always had decent workshops and you could learn quite a bit. But the most valuable time was when we were all left alone to compare what each other was trying. I know we were able to share a lot of great ideas and feel like we were meeting with other people who were struggling with the same issues. I wonder if you had meeting topics like "dealing with a girl who doesn't fit in" or "dealing with uninvolved parents" if you would get more interest.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: artk2002 on April 17, 2013, 09:24:16 AM
I agree with a lot of the comments here. People will attend meetings that they feel are productive to them -- they "vote with their feet." I know that the information you want to distribute is important to you, and you believe that it's important to the troops, but clearly some leaders don't agree. Or they do agree that the information is important but the medium is a problem. For instance, I absolutely *hate* in-person meetings. Or they could just be incompetent. Other than making sure that the meetings are as efficient as possible and delivering the information through multiple channels, there's not much that you can do.

The advice to put this back on the complaining parents is mostly good. I'd certainly start with "Please work with your troop leader to make sure this information is distributed. We have informational meetings once a month, perhaps a parent could volunteer to attend and get the information." I say 'mostly' because this could be a tip-of-the-iceberg situation. You may have a troop (or troops) with poor leaders and the parents don't know how to deal with that. So they call the higher authorities and try to tell them about the situation, without being blunt. It's much easier to say "we're not getting the information" than it is to say "leader X is incompetent and shouldn't be in charge of anything more difficult than tying shoes." It might be worthwhile to check and see if there are other issues with those troops. Dues sent in late? Noticeably poor cookie sales? Girls not advancing at the same rate as other troops?
Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: Green Bean on April 17, 2013, 10:25:41 AM
Wow, what a timely thread. I just have my Service Unit meeting last night (aka 90 minutes of my life I'll never get back). Like others here, experiences dealing with both my SU and Council haven't always been the smoothest.

I'm curious what complaint you have been getting from parents.
- If they relate to how the troop is run, they should be directed back to the troop leader. Perhaps the leaders are feeling the burden of too many tasks and could use another volunteer.
- if they are about poor communication of troop activities, see above.
- if they want more information on council or SU activities, perhaps contacting you is the way to go.

I can tell you from my limited experience (our troop got up and running in Nov/Dec) that we are still learning how the troop should be run. My co-leads, volunteers, and I try to shift the responsibilities. There are 6 of us and sometimes it still seems like a lot to do!

As far as SU communications go, how proactive are you in communicating events? My SU sends me an email every time there is a new event (regardless of the age group). In the past week, I have probably received 5-6 of these. It gets tiring. Most don't pertain to Daisies, and usually they are somewhat last minute. My troop has monthly outings, and I have already communicated our outing dates to parents through October. We probably won't do these last minute (3-4 weeks notice) events because of the coordination involved (communication to parents, permission slips, fees, registrations, rearranging our calendars, making sure my First Aider is available to chaperone).

Our council publishes a periodic magazine of all Council sponsored events. It has activities for the next 6 months. The magazine is sent to all troops homes and is also available on the council website. If a parent was complaining that they didn't have this information, I'd direct them on where to find it. If we choose to do an event as a troop, it will be scheduled in advance. If a parent wants to sign their daughter up independently, s/he has the information available.

Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: Acadianna on April 17, 2013, 09:22:01 PM
I was a Service Unit director 20 years ago -- and I could have written your post then.  So trust me, you have my sympathies!

I'm making some assumptions that things are still run today much as they were back then, so please correct me if I'm wrong about any of this.

For those not familiar with leadership roles in Girl Scouts, these are the problems that the OP is trying to solve:

1.)  The leader meetings aren't just to provide information to troops.  They are also for planning and for recruitment of people to work on events, both of which are much more effective face-to-face.  If hardly anyone attends, then you have the same very small group of volunteers (usually no more than 4 or 5) doing all the work.  Everyone loves the events, but few want to help make them happen.

Service Unit leaders are volunteers too, and they also have jobs and other commitments (their own troops, PTA, band, sports, church, etc.)  Without help, they can become overwhelmed and burned out.

2.)  Face-to-face meetings are important so that the SU leaders can answer questions and resolve issues all at once.  If everything is handled by email or phone, then the SU leaders may have to answer the same questions many times -- again, this can be quite a lot of extra work.

3.)  The SU director can't always refer parents back to the troop leaders.  The director is the one who "hires" (and "fires") leaders, and serves as their supervisor.  If parents are unhappy with a leader, then it's part of the SU director's job to help solve the problem.  (Or it was, when I had the job -- may be different now.)

I wish I had some "solve-everything" solutions for you, but here are a few ideas that might help at least a little.

When you first recruit leaders, make sure you tell them upfront how many meetings are required, and that there must be alternate representation (another parent in the troop) if leaders cannot attend.  Let them know from the start that representation at the meetings is a non-negotiable part of the job.

If your Service Unit sponsors any high-attendance events, require a representative from the troop to attend a particular meeting, if they wish to participate in the event.  (For us, these were our two annual unit camp-outs.)  At least, you'll have good attendance at a couple important meetings.

For older troops (Cadettes and Seniors), the girls themselves might be able to represent their troops at meetings.  By these ages, the girls really should have very active roles in planning anyway.

I wish I'd thought of and tried this one years ago -- borrow an idea from Cub Scouts and, a couple times a year, hold a "pack meeting," with a short adult meeting on the agenda.    Have an easy activity for families to participate in -- hobo stew, potluck desserts, each troop teaches a song, campcraft workshops.  One advantage is that you might get some parents to attend, in addition to leaders.

In spite of the difficulties, I loved my time as a GS volunteer.  I wish you every success with your unit.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: despedina on April 18, 2013, 10:50:06 PM
THanks Acadianna, you hit the nail on the head!   

To answer some of the questions that were asked:
-Yes, we understand leaders may not be able to make all meetings. We have encouraged leaders to send another adult. This rarely happens.
-Phoning into meetings - again, we are pretty rural, and we meet in an area with not great service either. Just this week after a meeting we were trying to get phone reception in vain.

-This week we had a training on the new Online Registration procedures. This is all brand new and packets were sent from council for us to give to troops.  Several troops did not show even after emailing to say they were.  One parent came in the door before meeting time and asked to just grab her packet and go, because "she worked all day, and hadn't been home yet".  I tried not to be offended but none of us Service team members had either.  And guess what? She was one of the ones who had the most questions during the meeting.  We made the meeting under an hour so I don't feel it was long especially with the important registration topic.

-Events: The ugly truth is we need more people on the event committees.  The same ones of us are working every event.  We enjoy it but it takes a lot out of us.

-Emails - We try to keep them to a min.  We send out Flyers once a month then just before the SU meeting we send out the meeting minutes from the previous meetings and remind of the upcoming meetings. The only other emails we send are those that can't wait until one of these mailings.

-"Pack" type meetings - I would love to do this, but getting 27 troops together seems....impossible.  I will run it by everyone though!  I do love how the boy scouts do it but it does mean they have more meetings to attend.

On an upbeat note - we just created a Facebook Group page and have 37 members in 1 day.  So exciting!   We hope to add more people to get all our info out easier.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: Acadianna on April 19, 2013, 07:07:22 PM
-"Pack" type meetings - I would love to do this, but getting 27 troops together seems....impossible.  I will run it by everyone though!  I do love how the boy scouts do it but it does mean they have more meetings to attend.

I wish I could remember how big our pack was, way back then.  (I was den leader for both of my son's dens, so I was active in Cub Scouts too.)  Our pack was associated with a single elementary, so I would guess not bigger than about 10-12 dens.  Our GS Service Unit, on the other hand, included several elementary schools and middle schools, and one high school -- more than 30 troops, comparable in size to your SU.  We did have access to a very large meeting site at a local church, which was nice for unit-wide events though, so maybe we could have managed a GS "pack meeting."

I do remember that the pack got excellent attendance at the monthly pack meetings though, including lots of non-leader parents.  The monthly pack meetings replaced each den's weekly meeting for that week.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: TootsNYC on April 19, 2013, 08:11:49 PM
Your land-line phone reception is bad?

Anyway, if you're all so spread out, then of course the leaders are even more reluctant to attend the meetings, because there's travel time to AND from, and it's long.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: Bethalize on April 24, 2013, 10:01:08 AM
-Events: The ugly truth is we need more people on the event committees.  The same ones of us are working every event.  We enjoy it but it takes a lot out of us.

I have something to offer in response to this. Stop doing it. People who won't volunteer to take over something will step up if there is an actual space.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: TootsNYC on April 24, 2013, 02:53:48 PM
-Events: The ugly truth is we need more people on the event committees.  The same ones of us are working every event.  We enjoy it but it takes a lot out of us.

I have something to offer in response to this. Stop doing it. People who won't volunteer to take over something will step up if there is an actual space.

Yep. You need to create the vacuum.

And if not enough people want to put out any effort, then maybe the event is not that valuable to them.

We have a central garden shared by several co-ops. We had a big influx of parents w/ small kids, and the older people (whose kids were older or grown) got a little testy about the pressure to have kids' events. At our bldg's meeting, someone said, sort of snottily, "I notice no one is planning any *adult* events." And someone else tsk-tsk'd as if this was so awful.

I thought, "If you think they're so important, why don't you volunteer to run one? Oh, and btw, I never see you out there at the grownup events anyway!"

What I said was, "Well, if people don't value the events enough to organize them, maybe that means the events aren't very important to people."

I *would* suggest that you widely publicize that you will be *cancelling* the event if no one steps up to organize it. In a far-flung organization w/ the same people doing the same organizing from year to year, people get complacent, and they may never realize that help is needed.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: kglory on April 24, 2013, 07:55:21 PM
-Events: The ugly truth is we need more people on the event committees.  The same ones of us are working every event.  We enjoy it but it takes a lot out of us.

I have something to offer in response to this. Stop doing it. People who won't volunteer to take over something will step up if there is an actual space.

Yep. You need to create the vacuum.

And if not enough people want to put out any effort, then maybe the event is not that valuable to them.

We have a central garden shared by several co-ops. We had a big influx of parents w/ small kids, and the older people (whose kids were older or grown) got a little testy about the pressure to have kids' events. At our bldg's meeting, someone said, sort of snottily, "I notice no one is planning any *adult* events." And someone else tsk-tsk'd as if this was so awful.

I thought, "If you think they're so important, why don't you volunteer to run one? Oh, and btw, I never see you out there at the grownup events anyway!"

What I said was, "Well, if people don't value the events enough to organize them, maybe that means the events aren't very important to people."

I *would* suggest that you widely publicize that you will be *cancelling* the event if no one steps up to organize it. In a far-flung organization w/ the same people doing the same organizing from year to year, people get complacent, and they may never realize that help is needed.

But that's not always feasible in Girl Scouts.  You can't just not have Thinking Day, or cookie sales, or other standardized, national events. 

(*caveat - I was a Girl Scout for 12 years but am now in my 30's, so those event names might be outdated!)

The OP is, herself, accountable to the higher-ups at national, just like the troop leaders are accountable to her.  She can't decide not to run certain events if she is required by the national organization to run them.  To me this sounds like part of the problem.  For a smaller, grass-roots organization, there is the ability to more flexible to the members' interests and needs. 
Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: blarg314 on April 24, 2013, 08:04:00 PM
If you've got ~15% attendance on a regular basis, then something has gone wrong with the process.  If you had 85% attendance, and it were 15% not responding, then I would say it's probably those volunteers, and cracking down might help. But at 85% not responding, the meetings are either too inconvenient, or not valuable.

It also strikes me that the need to get people to sign up to run special events might be part of the issue. If they show up to the meeting, they get pressured into doing more work. If they skip, they're off the hook. I also notice that you're dealing with unusual communication constraints, by 2013 standards - families that don't have internet and dodgy land lines are not something most leaders have to deal with.

Based on my experience with volunteers - if you don't have enough people volunteering to do X, you need to stop doing X. Either X will be dropped completely, or new people will step up. Trying to force unwilling people to do it rarely ends well. At some point it will break down, when the 5 or 6 stalwarts leave the organization, or get fed up. If you're absolutely required to do X, then you pare it down to the absolute minimum (say, not providing snacks), and when people complain, you sign them up to volunteer for the next event.

On possibility for special events in the future - at the beginning of the year, make it clear that a troupe has to supply X units of volunteers for special events over the year (you might scale it by number of leaders in a troupe). If they don't provide volunteers, either the troupe leader, assistant, or a parent, they are no longer allowed to participate in special events.

Or cancel the special events, and when people complain, tell them that they were cancelled due to lack of volunteers, and ask which date they'd like to volunteer for. If they try to say no, play up the "Oh, I'm sorry - that's the response we get from everyone, so you can see why we had to stop doing it" angle.



 
Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: TootsNYC on April 24, 2013, 09:18:15 PM
Also, don't discount directly asking people to do one of the events.

And have the folks who have done the events so many years need to distill what they know and create a timeline for the rookie to follow. And be available as coach.

Another suggestion I've heard is that each year you need a Lead and a Second. The next year, the Second becomes the Lead, and you get a new Second. That way more people get exposure to how to organize the event.
Title: Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
Post by: magiccat26 on April 25, 2013, 01:14:46 PM
Our SU hosted world thinking day this year and only 8 troops (in including mine) had a booth, but 20 troops signed up to attend.  That meant that the 8 troops "hosting" had to supply enough activities and materials for close to 200 girls.  My girls had fun but were exhausted and a little disappointed because they put a lot of effort into their booth and didn't see the same effort from the majority of the attendees.

It's hard to keep 9-10 year old girls motivated when they see themselves always giving and get so little in return (except complaints from other leaders when we had to limit it to 1 craft/swap/goodie per Girl Scout, none for siblings or other tag a longs).

I don't know that the SU events are required.  I know they are STRONGLY encouraged...like cookie sales.  A girl does not have to participate in cookie sales, but the council will punish a troop that does not participate by not allowing any other fund raising activity if they fail to sell cookies.

The bottom line is that this is a mostly volunteer organization.  If you make it difficult on volunteers, you will lose them.  They are already hurting for troop leaders...I am under constant pressure to make my troop bigger because no one else in my town wants to be a troop leader for my age group.  (We have 3 or 4 brownie troops - Grades 2 and 3, but I'm the only Junior troop Grade 4.). There are nightmare situations where a leader who can't say no has 40 girls in her troop...and all they do is color worksheets.  The parents complain, the leader has begged for help, but no one listens.

It's just really frustrating for everyone in the organization I guess.  I've promised my girls we will have a troop for as long as my daughter and at lease 4 other girls are interested.  But most girls drop out between 5th and 6th grade.  So I guess we'll see.