Mapping Volunteers in Treehouse
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Mapping volunteers in TreehouseAssignment 4, White PaperBusiness CommunicationJohns Hopkins UniversityLouise L. Schiavone, Senior LecturerWanlu Zhang October 7th, 2015 Executive summaryThere are a lot of people coming from college and near-by communities to volunteer at Treehouse. In Treehouse, volunteers can do various job here, such as supporting staffing program, sorting donations in the Wearhouse, fundraising events or tutoring students. To have volunteers working at Treehouse means that there is always a complex process to manage volunteers to work at Treehouse, including recruitment, orientation to the environment, training and assigning volunteers to the right project and right schedule. Although it will take a period of time to train a volunteer and allocate to a right position, we can create an efficient working environment, have more volunteers get involved in our organization and more children can benefit from our organization. Nearly 100 volunteers are coming to Treehouse, including long-term volunteer and shot-term volunteer, to work with our own staff. The existing problem in our organization is that we randomly assign project to every volunteer after a short training session. It causes a big issue that some new volunteers who are not familiar with each project may need some time to catch up with other volunteers in a same project. At the same time, some short-term volunteers take part in project, which needs a long-term commitment. The bad management of volunteer in our organization made our working progress slow and inefficient. In order to create an efficient and sustainable non-profit organization, we have to addressed and improved different problems that exist in our organization. Based on what I have found from the research and the analysis of the situation in Treehouse, I propose a project to make a new volunteer recruitment and management project in Treehouse. I’ve also made a phone interview of the Treehouse coordinator Victoria Kutasz to fully understand the problems and what plan we could apply on this situation.BackgroundTreehouse is a non-profit organization in Seattle, committed to provide youth in foster care with the essential and academic supports they equally deserve to help them graduate at the same rate as their peers with a plan for their future. Treehouse staff and volunteer partner in every aspect of our work. Our staff and volunteer are working passionately to create a better organization in helping youth in foster care and at the same time, enhance the effectiveness of our mission. Our services in Treehouse are composed of four major parts. The first part is the academic support, which is providing academic support for children in foster care, helping them success in school and providing them resources and other support system that all kids need to graduate from high school. We hope the coordination between foster parents, social workers, teachers and Treehouse can help them plan for their future. The second part is the Treehouse Wearhouse, which is a free store where we provide high quality school supplies, books, new clothing, shoes, toys, and other stuff for youth and their caregivers to shop for free. The third part is the Little Wishes that is we provide funding for the important childhood experiences that every kid deserves. Like children can engage all the activities they want at school or outside school. The forth part is Make a Referral which is our organization welcome all the referrals from social works, case managers and attorneys. All of these major parts need volunteer to work with us, which increase our efficiency in different ways and build a reliable and mature non-profit organization in help youth in foster care.
A lot of people are coming to volunteer in Treehouse, including college students, retired people in the near community, group of people from local company and also some children coming with their parents. We are so glad that we could have so many volunteers to work at Treehouse and indeed, volunteers become the major labor source in our organization no matter in events planning, funds raising or Wearhouse donation. People are coming to volunteer as a group or work with our own staff. Problems and Research FindingsBefore volunteers start to work in Treehouse, every one of them must go through a training session including orientation and pre-service training, but this short training session only last less than two hours. The supervisor of the Wearhouse reported that for most of the time, after the training session, we randomly allocate volunteers to different projects, no matter whether volunteers are familiar with the projects or not. In this situation, some new volunteers who are not familiar with each project may need some time to catch up with other volunteers in a same project. At the same time, some short-term volunteers take part in project, which needs a long-term commitment. These are real problems exist in our organization, making our working progress slow and inefficient. In order to create an efficient and sustainable non-profit organization, we have to addressed and improved different problems that exist in our organization. Do we have a detailed plan for program implementation? Making a comprehensive plan is a great start, so that we can follow a guide to check our progress. Is there any complete volunteer management going on in our volunteer training system? Do we have an effective communication between volunteer and employees? Do our volunteers have any rewards from the organization or do they have any motivation to volunteer in Treehouse? In order to solve these problems in Treehouse, we need to make a plan for program implementation. Make plan for program implementation Every aspects of each volunteer project must be considered properly before allocate volunteers to work. According a study “ Volunteerism in special education through industry-education cooperation” in 1998, James addressed that every preceding sections need a plan prior to implementing the volunteer program, including setting goals and objectives, building internal organization support of the program or establishing connection between them. As the plan progress properly, the person who response for the plan must estimate the resources the plan needs, such as office supplies, volunteer directory, orientation and training session for volunteers. (James, 1998) Of course, there will be some other problems coming up when we apply the plan. At this time, the coordinator in Treehouse needs to revise the plan or talk with other employees to find a better solution. In another study, the author stated that problems could be addressed and solved as the plan in advance. The resources can be changed or design can be improved with the progress of an original plan. (Allen et al, 1979)