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The Profession

The Impact of New Technologies on Volunteer Management

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As volunteer managers, communicating with current and potential volunteers can be one of our most frustrating, ongoing challenges. We send newsletters, write thank you notes, produce brochures, make phone calls, and write training manuals. One of the most frequently asked questions on message boards for volunteer professionals is: "Does anyone have good ways/methods of getting volunteers to report their hours?" More and more frequently, we are turning to new ways of communication offered by computer technology and the Internet to help us stay in touch with volunteers.

With the advent of computer technology, our communication toolkit has expanded possibilities, but not everyone agrees on how, when and why they should be used. Such tools as Internet recruitment, e-mail communication, virtual volunteering and online training may well have a major impact on the way we recruit and manage volunteers. However, some critics argue that not everyone has equal access to this technology, and even its use can be a barrier itself to those not technically inclined. How do we move forward and make good use of these new tools, without leaving behind those with no access or desire to use new technology?