Volunteer Committee Meeting 7/16/09

Thursday, July 16, 2009 - 1:00pm - 2:00pm
Status of Minutes: 

Volunteer Committee Minutes
Meeting Date:  July 16, 2009, 2009; 1:00pm
Present:  Estelle Anderson, Catherine Gemmell, Edward Goodell, Bob Jonas, Mary Anne Massey, Dan Van Engel (Chair)
Dan Van Engel stated that the purpose of this meeting was to determine what projects the Volunteer Committee plans to accomplish over next 3 years.  As the first major project is recruitment, we need to find out what the Trail Conference's volunteer needs are.

Ed Goodell said that many volunteer positions have already been defined.  He said 8 years ago, the Trail Conference made a number of changes, for example, staff was brought in to complement some tasks done by volunteers.  At that time, there was no staff position that represented the volunteers; and it was not clear who should do the volunteer recruiting.  As a volunteer organization, we needed a staff person dedicated to volunteers and employed a Volunteer Coordinator.  There has been difficulty keeping that position filled and it hasn’t always been filled; but we now have a volunteer infrastructure and the Volunteer Committee has helped develop the policy handbook & the youth policy.

He said that we now have a new scenario:  the Board has said affirmatively that the organization should operate through committees of paid and unpaid staff.  These committees will manage all Trail Conference activities.  This means the Volunteer Committee has the responsibility for everything that is volunteer-related in the organization.  This shifts the Volunteer Committee from working on a finite set of problems alone, to working on those problems with respect to how they fit in with the organization.  The issues the committee has to deal with will now be broader.

Dan responded that we need to work closest with the Trails Council because they do a large portion of the volunteer management.  Bob Jonas said we need to develop policies; and oversee other committees pertaining to their volunteer work.  Mary Ann Massey stated she would see the Volunteer Committee as being the equivalent of a Human Resource for volunteers.  She felt we need to decide what our strategy is to be; how do we recruit, recognize etc.  Then we should consider public relations with volunteers.  Estelle Anderson added that we need to have procedures for situations that may arise.  For example, if a Chair has a problem, they need to know to whom they should go.

Ed advised that the Board Chair will now choose committees and the Executive Director would recommend the committee chairs to the Board.  Mary Ann said that as a committee, we wouldn't be dealing directly with chair issues, but need to set up the mechanisms to deal with them.  Ed responded that, like a Human Resources department of an organization, people will be able to go outside chain of command and to directly to the Volunteer Committee to deal with a problem if necessary.  However, the Trails Council chair should, in the first instance, address a performance issue of a trail chair for example.  Mary Ann felt that the Volunteer Committee could bring a systematic form of communications to the organization; therefore, we need sub-committees with members who can handle confrontational issues.  Bob suggested that a confidential email address could be set up for such issues.

Dan said that we need to set up list of projects for next 3 years and decide how we will accomplish them.  He stated we need to know Trail volunteer job descriptions & needs (e.g. what vacancies exist; we need to find out from each committee what is needed to improve.  Ed said that, as a basic requirement, the organization should be able to accrue that type of data on an individual-by-individual basis; and as such, it should be online; and we need to identify a web/technology liaison from the Volunteer Committee.  Bob asked if as a result, the supervisors would no longer need to give chairs details on trail maintainers.  Ed responded that yes, our web solution would address this.  Bob responded that, however, we don’t want to take the human element out of this.  Mary Ann stated that the database would provide data that can then be used to add a human dimension.  As supervisor in the Highlands, the area allotted for one supervisor was too big then (covering over 50 miles); however now, there has been no change, and there is still only one supervisor.  This sort of thing needs to be addressed by the Volunteer Committee as a structural issue.  Ed responded that volunteer jobs need to be defined in manageable roles.  Bob indicated that solutions such as splitting trails works well when there is too much work for one volunteer.  Mary Ann said that, while that may be true, the fix doesn’t belong in this committee.

Dan felt that a phone survey would help us ascertain our volunteer needs, and that we need to have constant contact with volunteers.  All committees need to work together & support each other.  For example, we will work with the Technology Committee to develop a database and website to which all volunteers would have access.  Bob said that some of our volunteers will not use web, and Mary Ann responded that there would always be those who are not technologically inclined.  She stated that we would need to work with Trails Council to train volunteers & get the information required to trails volunteers.  Dan said that as time goes on, more people becoming computer savvy.

Ed suggested using the areas defined in the Strategic Plan, the Volunteer Committee to help create an organizational chart of each volunteer position (with job descriptions).  Mary Ann said we need to define Trails Council position roles, and that committees can be equated to an organization's departments.  She thought the Volunteer Committee would set up the framework for recruiting but not necessarily do the recruiting.  Dan said we need to interview the committee chairs to find out what they do, how things could be improved; do they have the volunteers they need?  An overview of each committee's functions is required.  Mary Ann reiterated that we should determine what committees belong to which area; and that our approach would need to be two-pronged– trails & the remaining committees.  Dan indicated that by talking to each committee, we would get a better idea of the perceived needs of the organization.  Catherine stated that the number and types of committees and job functions could change as a result of the strategic plan.  Ed said that not every committee has volunteers reporting to them, and first he will need to develop an organizational structure.  Mary Ann said that the Trails Council would probably not change much so we can look at those issues.  It was agreed that we need to get more people on board, or to assist the Volunteer Committee; and Mary Ann will draw up the appropriate job descriptions for those positions.

It was agreed that the Youth Policy would be on the agenda for the next meeting.

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