Somewhat Dated, Some Nuggets,
July 23, 2002
Susan J. Ellis
This book (acutally an 8.5 by 11 manual), originally published in 1994 and based on 1980's readings, is somewhat dated and has been only marginally updated. It falls into the second rank of the four books that made the cut from among the many available. Helen Little's “Volunteers: How to Get Them, How to Keep Them” stands alone as the single “must buy.” This book is co-equal to two others, each recommended as supplementary reading because each has something to offer at a secondary level: Sue Vineyard and Steve McCurley's “Best Practices for Volunteer Programs” and Jarene Frances Lee with Julai M. Catagnus, “Supervising Volunteers: An Action Guide for Making Your Job Easier.”There are two aspects of this manual by Susan Ellis that I did not see in the other books: first, her emphasis on casting a wide net and reaching as many potential volunteers as possible….(“Most people do not say ‘no'; they simply never knew you wanted them to say ‘yes'.) While I am skeptical of wasteful advertising programs in this time of diminishing leisure hours, there is something to this. The other vital chapter that this manual offers is the one addressing the importance of image, i.e. the public perception of the organization seeking volunteers, the reputation that it can specifically draw on as a resource.
There are a few flakey notes (e.g. one vignette about recruiting people to call parents and offer support as they are getting kids out the door to school. Any normal parent, especially if one parent is absent or has an early work start, would be furious at any volunteer daring to call in the midst of the chaos that charactizes getting three kids out the door to three different bus pick-up times.)
This manual does have an index. Bottom line: dated, some nuggets, if volunteers are vital to your success, worth getting.