Volunteer Management Audit

By Susan J. Ellis
From , Energize, Inc, 2003

The Audit has been produced with a top-level audience in mind, so its look and tone are professional. When someone reads this material, its relevance to decision makers ought to be evident. But the challenge is to get the attention of executives, since one of the concerns in the volunteer field is the relatively low-level management position many volunteer program leaders hold. One not-so-hidden agenda of the Audit is to demonstrate why executives need to take a greater interest in volunteer involvement.

Consider requesting the chance to make a formal presentation at a face-to-face meeting with your agency's executive director or other top managers. Present your case for conducting the Volunteer Management Audit and—perhaps even more important—for implementing the findings afterwards. Explain the time involved and your need for access to representative staff members. Do not [expect] resistance. Even if there is no precedence for something like this, approach your request with a positive attitude. After all, it is good management practice to want to assess a program. You may find that the request is greeted with some surprise at first, but that your initiative ultimately brings you increased respect for wanting to do the Audit.

Try some of these ideas:

  • Remember to stress that the purpose of the Audit is to strengthen the way the agency involves volunteers so that services can thrive as you move into the future. This is not a "report card"; it's a strategic planning tool.
  • If you have a volunteer program advisory committee, have them present the idea to the executive director on behalf of the program. If there is no formal advisory group, you can still enlist one or two long-time volunteers to accompany you to the meeting with the executive.
  • If your agency conducts regular or periodic evaluations of other aspects of its service delivery, use that momentum to suggest this more intensive look at the volunteer program in particular.
  • If it is your immediate supervisor who must first be convinced, use the same techniques at the middle management level. Try to be the one to make the presentation higher up, or at least to accompany your supervisor. If this is not workable, give the person who will represent you a "talking points" list in preparation for being an advocate for the Audit concept.
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