Author Topic: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.  (Read 7386 times)

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cicero

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Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
« Reply #15 on: April 14, 2013, 09:37:02 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.

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TootsNYC

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Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
« Reply #16 on: April 14, 2013, 09:39:22 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.

magiccat26

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Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
« Reply #17 on: April 14, 2013, 09:55:41 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.
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despedina

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Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
« Reply #18 on: April 15, 2013, 07:44:13 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.

magiccat26

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Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
« Reply #19 on: April 15, 2013, 07:59:06 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.
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MNdragonlady

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Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
« Reply #20 on: April 15, 2013, 09:20:13 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.

cicero

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Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
« Reply #21 on: April 15, 2013, 09:20:55 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. >

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RebeccainGA

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Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
« Reply #22 on: April 15, 2013, 09:58:14 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!

wolfie

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Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
« Reply #23 on: April 15, 2013, 10:40:28 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??

Oh Joy

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Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
« Reply #24 on: April 15, 2013, 11:00:03 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!

Yvaine

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Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
« Reply #25 on: April 15, 2013, 11:16:51 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.

camlan

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Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
« Reply #26 on: April 15, 2013, 11:18:29 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

And if you live anywhere near Rochester, I can hook you up for next year, if you'd like.  ;)
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*inviteseller

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Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
« Reply #27 on: April 15, 2013, 01:18:22 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

nyoprinces

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Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
« Reply #28 on: April 15, 2013, 01:29:05 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.

kherbert05

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Re: Polite way to tell volunteers to do their job.
« Reply #29 on: April 15, 2013, 01:53:45 PM »
Something my school uses to help keep parents informed is Remind 101. 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.)
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