VIEWS: 11 PAGES: 8 POSTED ON: 9/14/2011
ENCOURAGING VOLUNTEER PARTICIPATION Original Query from Lila Ogman, LIRIC, Iona College, New Rochelle, NY We, at LIRIC, are planning for the future of our LLI and want very much to solicit more participation from our membership into the inner workings of our LLI. We have written articles for our newsletter, written letters to individuals followed by phone calls, but to date have been relatively unsuccessful. Short of being a condition of membership, what are other LLIs doing to in this area, and what are the degrees of success they are having? We would greatly appreciate hearing from other LLI's regarding this matter. Thank you for your help. From Linda Bailey, Veritas Society, Louisville, KY At the last class the facilitator distributes a "feedback" form . At the bottom of the form members circle in which ways they would like to be involved in the Society. Those names are compiled and given to the person in charge of each area (curriculum, telephone committee chair, etc). Another suggestion: let the recruiting of volunteers come from the members themselves rather than from YOU. Your Board of Directors should be particularly helpful in this regard. When you need a volunteer(s), ask members of the Board and other active members who they would recommend and then let them approach the person. From Nancy Leich, SALI, Seminole Community College, FL This is a tough question. Some compensation in the form of discount travel, classes, etc. is suggested. There has to be some reward for volunteering. From Michael I. Markowitz, Institute for Retired Professionals, New School, NY One quarter of our membership makes up a pool from which we draw coordinators. More then half of our total membership volunteer on committees or projects. We have spent the past 18 months in strategic planning in which more then 200 of our 270 participated. We started off with a 6-hour "retreat" attended by 160 in which we determined our most important objectives. (NB: There are professional group workers who can facilitate this session). As part of the process, each committee wrote a position paper for Board approval. They stated their objectives, obligations and conditions of membership, term limits, policies for representations (electing the chair and the Board representatives), etc. We are revising our Guidelines (By-laws) and Coordinators Handbook and are just beginning a student handbook. I'm too busy right now to write more but encourage the people to call and, if necessary, meet with the team who handled it. From Sharon Simson, Legacy College for Lifelong Learning, MD Personal contact and invitation and personal thanks has enabled us to involve all our members in some type of volunteer capacity. Ask your committee chairs and members to scout around. Ask a member directly how he/she would like to contribute to the LLI. Define opportunities to contribute to be as creative and expansive as is possible. Then, provide and match members with those opportunities. Each person is different and we find that everyone likes to contribute when it matches their interests and needs and enriches their life. Let them know that being a volunteer contributes to lifelong learning. Provide lots of appreciation to enable each person to feel special and valued. From Constance K. Smith, Institute for Learning in Retirement, Slippery Rock U., PA I'm not sure what is meant by participation in the organization's 'inner workings', but here's what we've done. We are an ALL-volunteer organization (hoping soon to have 50% time paid Executive Director) with 170 members. As the volunteer Executive Director, I couldn't handle it all (and the paid one won't either), so I got permission from the Board to create some volunteer staff positions. Such as Curriculum Coordinator, Coordinator of Instructional Volunteers, Financial Secretary, Web Page Coordinator, Office Assistant, Publicity Manager, Social Coordinator, Registration Coordinator, etc. When approached, most folks were willing to take a specific 'job' as long as the duties were defined and they had some idea of how much time would be involved during what times of year. Hope this helps. From Roxanne M. Knott-Kuczborski, Lifelong Learning Institute, Caldwell College, NJ I think that the experience of LIRIC is certainly not uniquely theirs. We too have tried to solicit involvement without success. While we get volunteers to help out when we need assistance for our mailings and other ―on-time‖ tasks, getting members on committees is much more difficult. (Keep in mind, that we have a volunteer board and a very pro-active president.) Like other clubs/organizations/committees/etc. it is always a few that take on the bulk of the work. We are trying to develop a 5-year plan and one of the situations that we have to look at is—who will be the volunteers to take us into the future. So, I do not have an answer for you but I just wanted to let you know –you are not alone! From Steve Benson, ElderLearning Institute, Minneapolis, MN I am sure that most of us can appreciate your problem. ELI has a very active corps of volunteers, but it takes time to develop. All members of our board are expected to serve on committees. We offer 160 courses, trips and activities a year, all led by volunteers. For instance, each course has a course assistant, we have a very a very active Special Events Committee. We have regular volunteers who come in to answer phones. I think that the key is giving each volunteer specific and meaningful tasks. Envelope stuffing etc; should be handled if possible by your college's addressing and mailing service and only rarely do we ask volunteers to do grunt work. Try to find tasks that tap into the specific talents and enthusiasms. And continue to stress and we do: We expect active involvement by members in our learning community. Good Luck and Cheers. From Sr. Hildegard Grogan, LINC Program, Neumann College, Aston, PA We continue to invite but our seniors seem to be over involved already. Once in a while we have a senior who really wants to teach or volunteer but that's about the most. Actually what we are finding is that the younger seniors are interested but still working. They are beginning to as us to run our sessions in the evening. We aren't able to do this yet but it seems as though that will be the movement in the future. From Dr. Albert M. Lewis, Director, The Aquinas Emeritus College, Grand Rapids, MI Our Program coordinator has recruited about 12 volunteers by offering them a free course for every 10 or 12 hours of volunteer work. From Sharon Sokoloff, Brandeis Adult Learning Institute, (BALI) MA Thoughts on Recruiting Volunteers at BALI: ** It is a job that requires constant attention and a lot of work by many people, staff, Council, Committee Chairs.... ** Success depends on many factors and on what we are looking for volunteers for. 1. We have more success with things like Curriculum Committee, Lunch & Learn Committee (our lunch time lecture series), Membership Committee, our newsletter, BALI Journal (literary journal made up of members' writings...) 2. It is very difficult to get people to assist with hospitality-related tasks, e.g., making coffee for the program and/or shopping for supplies. 3. Recruiting for Council ("board") requires a very systematic approach that our Nominating Committee takes charge of. They work hard for about 3 months managing this process. 4. Recruiting for Study Group Leaders is the most important task and one that is a constant process. a) The Curriculum Committee takes major responsibility and does a good job. b) We have our Council participating in this now. c) We ask current SGLs to always be on the lookout for "talent" and to help us recruit. d) We are in the process forming a "teaching and learning resource committee" that will assist up-coming SGLs to develop and support them in the process. e) As Director, I am always looking for people, tapping their brains of "what they might do", planting seeds in their minds, and working on "the pipeline" of SGLs for the future. We are in our 4th year. This is a very important part of what we are continuously working on ---- to improve our methods to recuit SGLs. f) Currently, we are in the process of reaching out to and encouraging Brandeis Emeriti to participate as SGLs. If you have other, more specific, questions I didn't address, please touch base. NOTE: SGL – Study Group Leaders From Rose Alsbury, ENCORE/ Exploring New Concepts of Retirement Education Clatsop Community College, Astoria, Oregon As the community college sponsor of ENCORE, it may be easier for us at this point but from the very beginning of our ILR, we made it very clear this is a member-run organization. We are only completing our 3rd year and volunteering is way up from board and committee participation to daily needs tasks. Our members know that this is their organization and if it is to continue and grow it's up to them. When people "own" something, they have a vested interest in its success. If your members are passive "receivers" of the organization, maybe they don't have enough power to set their own direction? Just a thought. Lots of good wishes for your success! From Ara Rogers, Learning in Retirement Institute, University of South Florida, Tampa This is something EVERY volunteer organization struggles with. It takes energy and perseverance; there is no magic formula. The following are some of the critical elements that help us ensure a strong inflow of senior volunteers. In the order items occurred to me: 1) Have a strong organizational mission. It helps if people know why it is important that they participate. Here, we always emphasize how this is a member-driven organization, that members run and decide how things will work, what we will offer, etc. We don‘t DO things for our members—they do for themselves. . .with our help. We also do let our members know this is how our organization keeps its costs down, keeping us affordable for most. 2) Ask people to participate. Nothing works as well as the ‗face to face‘ ask. A lot of this sort of work involves personal relationships. You can get folks with letters and open calls, but some folks are waiting to be asked. 3) Have well-defined volunteer job descriptions (don‘t need to be lengthy) and a TERM LIMIT for the volunteer. Then, thank them and let them go gracefully. Allow volunteers to feel that they have done their part and can then just BE. No one wants to sign up for an unknown job for an unknown period of time; but you can get the busiest of folks to agree to help on a limited project that has an end date. Going back to point one (above), make it known that volunteering is part of the organization‘s strengths and an expectation. 4) Reward and recognize volunteer participation. 5) Be willing to ‗cede‘ authority to volunteers – they must feel they own the organization. People want to feel like they have important work to do, not just busywork. 6) Recognize that people come to these programs for different reasons; not everyone will be able nor want to volunteer. The 80/20 rule is a cliché because it is so true. So you will need to keep organizing to bring on new volunteers. It really is a perpetual operation. From Bob Hartmann, Quest, New York City With reference to the inquiry from Iona about promoting more diverse involvement, this appears to be a common problem. In our organization we find that the same people tend to become involved and there is a group who prefers only to sit in class and listen. The only way we have been able to involve more people in giving presentations or in committee work is to target individuals and speak to them one-on -one to get them involved. We are not always successful but the success rate is better than announcing to a large group that we need volunteers. This, unfortunately never works. From Barbara Reinish, ILR, Northwestern University, Chicago and Evanston, IL I think that members of your strategic planning committee really need to approach individuals on a one-on-one basis to help. It would probably be a good thing to describe the kind of help needed and time requirement. I think it needs the personal approach at this point. Hope this helps. From Joan Gamble, ElderCollege of Terra State Community College, Fremont, Ohio We have set term limits (3 years on one committee) and committee descriptions. We have as few committee meetings as will enable the purpose to be served and we indicate how much time commitment is involved (ranges from three hours per year to 12 hours per year, depending on the committee assignment). We do business at the meetings in a friendly manner but strive to stay on the committee task. The goal is for everyone to feel that their time was well spent to accomplish the committee goal for the good of ElderCollege. We have a paid profession administrator and secretarial services. Over 50 people serve on the 8 committees each year. From Joan Ray, Stockton Institute for Continued Learning, San Joaquin Delta College, Stockton, CA. Have they defined the type of volunteer activities they wish to support? (1) Campus service as volunteer subjects for research projects in psychology and sociology classes, tutors for the students, aides in the child development center, shelving and cataloging in the campus library, horticulture projects for campus grounds, support for bond elections, docents for the campus art gallery, models for the drawing classes, graphics projects for web page or campus promotion, research projects or grant writing, instrument maintenance for the band/orchestra classes, ticket taking at campus athletic events or helping with time trials, teaching new library technology skills for students etc. All these activities should not replace any of the usual classified employee responsibilities. OR (2) Help with their own LLI activities - registration helpers, teachers, facilitators, curriculum committee, social activities coordinators (potlucks etc.), administrative board members, secretarial duties etc. Once these are clarified they might consider promotion strategies. For campus service perhaps they could utilize the campus staff newsletter to request the types of volunteer activities that the staff might need. The campus liaison would be helpful here. If they want help with their own activities, then utilize their own newsletter, appeals at their potlucks and social activities, posters in their classrooms if allowed by campus, announcements to class participants etc. Any volunteer activity should be clearly stated as to required skills, time commitment, and any mentoring that's available. It's important to respect the vast experience of our LLI members. They are not interested in boring, repetitive activities. GOOD LUCK! From Joe Scorpion, Academy for Lifelong Learning, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA We have 7 standing, active committees,2 of which are the MEMBERSHIP COMMITTEE and VOLUNTEERS COMMITTEE. Both work closely with each other. When we admit new members, we survey them to see what areas of interest they have in aiding our program, e.g. Administration, Curriculum, Special Events, Social Events. One question we ask- "Can you volunteer to work in the office"? For those who indicate "YES," their names are given to the Volunteer Coordinator. They are then contacted and a training session is set up in our office. They are then added to the monthly calendar according to the days they can volunteer. I admit, sometimes it is difficult to completely fill the monthly calendar and there may be days when no one is at the reception desk. Those of us who are regularly in the office(every day) then pick what ever has to be done, e.g. copying, answering the telephone, opening mail, etc. All in all, things work pretty well. The best method, though, is direct, face-to-face contact by active members asking for participation. Don't know if this will be of help. From Lorene Porsild, Comox Valley ElderCollege, British Columbia With reference to your e-mail this date regarding Volunteers, we advise that the Comox Valley ElderCollege has been very successful at getting and keeping volunteers. We credit this success to the following: - All committee appointments are for 2 years with the option to run again for another 2 year term but no committee member can stay on one committee for more than 4 years. - If a committee member wishes to go to another committee after her/his term is over, then it would their first term on the new committee. This system works very well for getting new ideas, new contacts, new energy, and a chance to advise new members of the committees and the duties involved in each of the committees. - Our Application for Membership includes a section asking," Would you be interested in volunteering on a Committee, if so; What would you be interested in? We list all the Committees. Also, Would you be interested in teaching a course? If so what Topic. These applications are reviewed immediately by the Membership Committee and the new members that showed interest are referred to the respective Committees who are contacted by the Chairs of the committees. - Three months before the Annual General Meeting we also solicit for new volunteers at our Saturday Morning Lecture Series which has an enrollment of 200+ members. A short talk on volunteering is given and there is a table set out where people can sign up for joining a committee of their choice, look after the sound system, teach a course, assist in a course, or help set up tables etc. - At the end of each Semester, we hold a tea and a get together for all our volunteers from the Semester just finished and the committee members. They receive an invitation in the mail. This is well received and appreciated. The event is held at a restaurant or at the Officer's Mess at the Air force Base in our area. - At our A.G.M. we present a Certificate of Appreciation to all volunteer members who are leaving a committee or have completed their term - All volunteers who teach a course receive a book as a token of thanks from the membership. We are celebrating our 5th Anniversary in May and we have grown from 100 members to 593 at this date. We are lucky to be in a retirement area on the west coast of Canada. Good luck to you all in your endeavors. From Louisa Strock, Center for Lifelong Learning at Northwest State CC, Ohio. Accept that some of the LLL will never volunteer--they are interested Learners, not Leaders. Accept that there are many others, though, who will happily take on a specific task at your request but not "volunteer," because volunteering assumes risk and responsibility for the outcome, and seems to be conceit and self-promotion. However, many are actually waiting to be asked (because they aren't putting themselves forward ) to perform a specific task when you ask. For a few, this will lead to, "Is there anything else you'd like me to do?" It's easier to volunteer with a partner than as a loner, too, so ask for a pair. Or assume the Learner will say, "I'll help, " and just go to choice. Would you rather do this, or this?" And you may have to ask. That's why you're the leader. Waiting for someone to step up to volunteer for the firing line could be a long and fruitless wait--Apples aren't going to fall from the maple tree, no matter how long the wait! From Carolynn Raffman, McGill ILR, Quebec The McGill Institute for Learning in Retirement has developed a long-range planning strategy on in- house workshops we call Maintaining Momentum. they have been successful for recruiting moderators and informing our membership about our administrative needs. The 5th bi-annual event will be held on March 31 - if you provide your mailing address, I will forward a copy of our 1995 Planning Guidebook along with the Maintaining Momentum 5 flyer for your information. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need further information. From Shirley Hibarger, Lifelong Learning, University of W. Florida At the University of West Florida Center for Lifelong Learning in Fort Walton Beach we are fortunate enough to have a wealth of volunteers both serving on our board and assisting with the committees. I would personally attribute this to the fact that we are an all volunteer school and our members are aware that if they don't contribute, they may lose the benefits of our classes. This holds true for our instructors as well -- and this semester we boast of more than 80 classes, with a student population of about 625. From Ed Aqua, ILR, Nova Southeastern University, FL RECOGNITION, RECOGNITION AND RECOGNITION for those who have already volunteered. Others will see how valued they will be and somehow the others do begin to volunteer. Even little tokens, pens, certificates, etc., frequently awarded and for a wide variety of contributions to the ILR will be appreciated. And for some, a small gift certificate $10, 25,. goes a long way, but frequency of recognitions, that's the most important - with food. We call them" Just Desserts Events." From Doris Harrison, Learning in Retirement, Waukesha, WI To each WCTC-LIR (Waukesha County Technical College) brochure listing classes we add a Part 2 to our registration form: "Resource File Form" with the following sentence: "To serve WCTC-LIR members, we would like to establish a resource file. If you haven't already done so and are interested, please complete the following information: Name, Address, Expertise, Previous Occupation, Hobbies/Collections/Interests, Volunteer activities outside LIR, Elderhostels attended." We leave enough space for each category to be filled in. On the same form we also include: "Would you like to broaden your involvement in LIR? We can always use help on our committees. Let us know if you're interested in one of the following and we'll call you. Curriculum ___ Special Events ___Mailings___" All responses are forwarded to related committees and a copy retained in the LIR office for reference when we're looking for people to recruit for the board. As with most organizations, the response is not great. Our volunteers have been very loyal and hard- working, and we are always concerned about burn-out among them.