February 28, 2024

What I’ve learned about volunteer leaders during the pandemic

Some volunteer leaders have lost their jobs.  Many are being furloughed or reassigned while their facilities are closed to the public and volunteers.  Others are working for organizations whose operations have been revamped to meet the needs of those affected by the virus.  Some are working from home, others are on the frontlines.  And, still others are seeing an influx of volunteers eager to make a difference and experience a sense of normalcy.  


The virus has upended life as we knew it.  And, from my perspective, the trend seems to be that there isn’t any one trend.  We’re living in what William Bridges calls the neutral zone.  We’re caught between an “ending” when the virus began and a “beginning,” the timing of which is uncertain.  It’s a time of confusion, anxiety and frustration for many.  And, ironically a time of great creativity as well. 


For the past six months, I’ve been looking at our changing landscape.  Searching online, attending webinars, reading blogs, following thought-leaders.  I’m sure there’s more going on behind the scenes, but here’s my short list.  Volunteer leaders are 


  • Engaging in online learning and weekly discussions
  • Mentoring, supporting and encouraging their peers and colleagues
  • Sharing resources, developing guides, creating new policies
  • Identifying new opportunities and supporting virtual and remote volunteers 
  • Learning how to utilize new communication tools and technologies, and  
  • Creating strategies to stay in touch with their volunteers and community partners.


Volunteer leaders are adapting.  They’re flexible and creative.  They’re partnering with their organizations and volunteers to find solutions to the myriad of problems created by this health crisis.  


I believe that when we are finally able to move about safely again, we’ll see many new volunteers and business partners who want to help solve the problems created during the pandemic.  And, based on what I’ve observed to date, I know that these leaders will be ready to meet that challenge.


Resource:  Pandemic Sparking New Wave of Volunteerism  https://www.thenonprofittimes.com/hr/pandemic-sparking-new-wave-of-volunteerism/

Certificate in Volunteer Managment (Part 2)

Volunteers provide a unique human resource that can enhance an organization’s ability to achieve its mission, priorities, and goals. And, a well-managed volunteer program provides key building blocks that help ensure organizational sustainability.

Kathleen McCleskey and Wendy Biro-Pollard of Long and Short Associates have been collaborating with ACC’s Center for Nonprofit Studies for over a decade. During this time, they have conducted highly rated, four-day courses that provide managers of volunteer resources with state-of-the art, professional development training that is unique in the State of Texas.

Each class includes lecture, class discussion, opportunities for creative problem solving, networking, and useful resources including tools and checklists – all drawn from Kathleen and Wendy’s careers as practitioners and nationally recognized experts in the field of volunteer engagement.

This course will benefit anyone in the nonprofit, association, and governmental sector who seeks to learn how to build a successful volunteer program. Participants will discover the latest volunteer management trends, learn key steps in the volunteer management process and develop skills and techniques that are useful to any organizational leader.

All sessions have been recognized by the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration and will cover the Council’s Core Competencies for Managers of Volunteer Resources.

The Certificate in Volunteer Management is four full days of learning from and with nationally recognized volunteer management experts.

Upon completion, participants will earn 2.8 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) from Austin Community College. These may be eligible for use in meeting professional certification requirements

Working with Volunteers

Sydnie Tafolla, Wendy Biro Pollard, and Stephanie Simmons will discuss how to develop a stewardship project that utilizes volunteers.

They will cover an array of topics related to volunteer management including how to integrate, communicate with and reward volunteers involved in stewardship projects.


Volunteer Management: Tactics, Trends and Tips

Wendy Biro-Pollard, a volunteer engagement expert and BoardSource Certified Governance Trainer, will provide insight into social trends related to volunteering. Knowing these trends will make you a more effective leader of volunteers by impacting your ability to recruit, supervise, and recognize volunteers. This session is designed to provide information and tools to increase your ability to improve client and community services while effectively engaging volunteer support. Participants will learn about age and generational values, technology and social media’s impact on volunteer recruitment, skills based and pro bono volunteering, and more.

Wendy is currently an adjunct faculty member at The Center for Nonprofit Studies at Austin Community College. Throughout her career, she has conducted numerous trainings and provided coaching on volunteerism to a variety of agencies including state and national associations, corporate and community foundations, faith-based, and governmental.

Make plans to join us Monday, February 11 to hear more on the next wave of volunteer trends.

Preparing Staff to Supervise and Support Volunteers

Preparing and training staff to supervise and support volunteers is a key step in the volunteer management process and one that is often overlooked. In this fast-paced, interactive session, participants will learn strategies that will help create strong volunteer and staff partnerships and improve patient satisfaction.

Participants will:

• Identify ways that volunteers can support your department and healthcare organization’s strategic goals • Explore volunteer supervisor best practices • Learn what volunteers want and need from their supervisors • Discover methods for recognizing and rewarding the staff-volunteer partnership

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