8 Ways a U.S. Credit Downgrade Could Hurt My Finances

8 Ways a U.S. Credit Downgrade Could Hurt My Finances

Like many Americans, I’m wondering how a U.S. credit downgrade would impact me personally. The drop from AAA to AA rating will force the government to pay higher interest on its debt, but what will be the consequences to hard-working Americans? From my financial experience both professionally and privately, here is the impact I foresee to my credit card debts, mortgage, taxes, savings and cost of living resulting from a U.S. credit downgrade.

1) Higher Interest Rates on Loans

A downgrade in the U.S. credit rating will make the U.S. less attractive to investors. The government will have to pay more for borrowing money, and the Federal Reserve will likely charge banks more for the money it lends them. Like a snowball effect, interest rates will rise throughout the economy. The standard APR on my credit cards will go up as will the interest on future loans, such as payday loans for unemployed borrowers, car loans, adjustable rate mortgages, student loans or personal loans. This will affect the economy as a whole as people spend less and companies borrow less for the purpose of growing their business.…

Discount schemes for volunteers

Discount schemes for volunteers

I know someone asked about this a while ago, but I’m trying to find out more about the type of discounts that are currently offered to volunteers by the organisation they volunteer with and how easy this/or complex it is to administer.


A lot of museums offer volunteers a discount in their cafe and shop, and will usually give them free/discounted entry to events and exhibitions. Entry into events and exhibitions could be seen as part of the volunteer’s ongoing training, but cafe and shop discounts are obviously a bit harder to justify, and could be seen as a consideration.

The general feeling though is that the benefits of giving the discount outweigh the risks. Volunteers really appreciate it, and actually I suspect it makes them more likely to buy cards and presents from the museum shop, and probably ends up making museums more money in the long run. Usually volunteers will have some kind of ID card, and will just present it to get their discount.

Sorry, this may be too late for the original enquiry but two places outside the home organisation that have been known to give discounts to volunteers are Fired Earth and for conservation volunteers there’s Hi-Tech.…

Volunteer ‘Team Leaders’

Volunteer ‘Team Leaders’

team leadersHello,

Our volunteer program has recently reached a fairly positive situation in that our organization is working with a large number of volunteers for our size and the capacity we have.

In looking to be able to continue to expand and develop the program, as well as the volunteers that we have I am wanting to establish some of our existing volunteers as ‘team leaders’ to help manage and support other existing volunteers.

The leaders would be working across specific areas that they are involved in such as office / administration, complementary therapies and counseling.

Does anyone have a similar system in place? What training has been provided to help the leaders ‘step up’ to the roles and how productive have people found similar arrangements?

Any help or suggestions gratefully received.…

Non attendance

Non attendance


Does anyone have a template for a letter I could send to volunteers who have been absent for a long period of time? We cannot keep their details on our database any longer so I would like to inform them that despite repeated attempts to contact them, they have not responded and thus will be removed from the volunteer database.

I’m hoping it will serve as a reminder to some of them to get them to come back!


I Said…

How to fire a volunteer

How to fire a volunteer

how-toOne of the things I like about volunteer groups is the level of discussion – it’s not “What should the table centerpieces for our volunteer thank you luncheon be?” or “How do you recruit volunteers” but, rather, “How are we going to respond to this new government policy/practice” or “What are your success stories re: working with online volunteers.” I so appreciate that!

With that in mind… I saw this question on an online discussion group that shall remain nameless, and wanted to pass it on. I’m wondering not only how you would answer, but also, what this question might say about how many people view volunteers and the role of managers of volunteers.

Here is the question:

I have a really super awkward situation where I need to “fire” a volunteer – I’ve tried everything, such as finding non-people related tasks (work on this at home! You Don’t have to come in!!) and even referring to other agencies (sorry fellow nonprofits!) but the volunteer keeps coming back, wanting to work with us. I feel bad, because I realize that this person is really passionate about our work, but internally, is referred to as the Rain Cloud (RC) – we are just too small of a staff working long hard hours with very high needs clients to extend that to a volunteer.…

I was gobsmacked when I read that role description

I was gobsmacked when I read that role description

I was gobsmacked when I read that role description.

And that’s for an ASSISTANT Volunteer Coordinator, which suggests there is actually a Volunteer Coordinator post already in existence. It would be interesting to see THAT job description.

There is always the possibility that the volunteer would be supporting these activities rather than taking charge of them all, but that is certainly not what the advert suggests.

While I believe that many volunteers are capable of carrying out these sort of roles, I totally agree with Kate that it would be more appropriate to break the role down into several volunteering opportunities alone.

To be honest I think it may even be too much for someone in a paid position. Supervising a Mentoring Programme for 40 people alone sounds like a full-time job.

Just wanted to back up the ‘call to action’ to feed in to AVM and perhaps more importantly to let others in the field know about AVM, UKVPMs and i-volunteer, just as three (but by no means all) key resources and voice pieces we have to help raise the profile of the profession.…

I think we could at least begin collecting these examples

I think we could at least begin collecting these examples

I think we could at least begin collecting these examples. Also, low paid volunteer management posts.

In this recent case, it was advertised alongside a fundraising post which (from memory) was $30k+. Not very tactful.

The issue feeds into various debates about what volunteering is, where’s the divide between paid work/volunteering, potential job substitution etc. It’s an interesting one, since we would want to champion having a variety of roles on offer, and promote the capability of volunteers to undertake responsible and skilled roles.

So why precisely do roles like this provoke dissatisfaction and irritation?

I know what I think – how about others?

Leaving aside all the arguments about job substitution etc. I think this organisation is putting itself at enormous risk by expecting one volunteer to take on this role. Looking at the ‘job description’ it is a complex and skilled role with a lot of responsibility, and most of the work is ongoing. In the current climate there possibly are people who would be willing to take that on as a volunteer to keep their CV and skills up to date, but I suspect there would be an extremely high risk of losing them if a paid opportunity came up, and given the role they’re being asked to do, it looks (on the face of it) like the organization would be well and truly stuffed if they left.…

Social media policy

Social media policy


Whilst updating guidance for managers who involve volunteers we looked at the potential issue of volunteers using social media to comment negatively about factors including their role, their organization, beneficiaries etc.

Do people feel that these are covered sufficiently by existing confidentiality/data protection policies or do people feel a separate social media policy or guidelines on social media usage would be a better way to address the issues around privacy/personal v organizational views?

social mediaIt’s not just volunteers who do this – I notice, for example, people twittering what are evidently their personal views rather than their organizational view. Not usually very negative or serious. Maybe it’s something to do with the ease and immediacy of posting, and assumptions about what one’s organizational view would be, especially on politics, for example. An issue that springs to mind is tweets about the Dorries/abortion counseling goings on from organizations that I don’t think include this area in their remit. But I digress.

Surely the issue of negative postings or publicity by staff or volunteers is covered by one’s Code of Conduct, a breach of which could trigger a disciplinary/resolving difficulties procedure.…

Olympic Volunteering

Olympic Volunteering

Dear All

We have been working over the last year to establish an ‘Olympics-inspired’ volunteering blog-site that we were to use to showcase opportunities that, whilst maybe without the official tag, were inspired by the principles and values of the Olympics.

This work has been a slow grind. In particular we’ve struggled to source opportunities from local organizations and clubs that meet this criteria. Without any distinct resourcing to develop this further we’ve hit a bit of a brick wall.

However the biggest wall was reading the VE release recently with regards to the use of the Olympics logo, name, related-words, etc. In the end, we took the option to de-publish our site in response to this email.

I really thought that the Olympic spirit was about getting on board, doing something, engagement, etc. And yet, the red tape has been enough to put us off!

Are other people coming up against this / made a similar decision?

olympicsI’m beginning to wonder whether we ought to advertise our annual dog show as “RSPCA Cambridge Dog Show for the year following 2015” in order to avoid being sued for using the number 2016.…

Does international aid erode sustainable community volunteering?

Does international aid erode sustainable community volunteering?

Dear all
A live discussion that may be of interest to you – with interesting reflections possible on the the impact of funding on volunteer groups in non-development contexts. Please add your thoughts!

If you are interested, tune into our meeting 3 – 4pm this Friday 16th September.

Does international aid erode sustainable community volunteering?

Mukesh Kapila in conversation with Masooda Bano

The negative impact of aid on development has been a recurring and controversial subject in recent years. Drawing on her extensive research in this field, Masooda Bano asserts that there is a strong negative correlation between foreign aid, and voluntary organizations’ ability to mobilise communities. The audience will be invited to discuss the possible implications this has for voluntary organisations and the international donor community.

Masooda Bano is a Research Fellow at the Oxford Department of International Development & Wolfson College, University of Oxford, with a DPhil from Oxford and MPhil from Cambridge. Her work focuses on real life development puzzles with a focus on mapping the micro-level behaviour and incentive structures drawing on rich empirical data especially ethnographic studies.…

Volunteer Drivers

Volunteer Drivers

Hi, I wondered if I could seek your advice/thoughts on training for volunteer drivers and safety checks. I have recently had a complaint about the standard of driving of one of our volunteers. The drivers use their own vehicles. We have decided to request the volunteer to undertake a drive-check, carried out by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM). This is not a test or an assessment, merely observed driving with a report to the driver on safety. We need to show we have carried out a risk assessment on this driver and this seemed an ideal way. I have been out with the driver myself and felt comfortable, but I am not qualified, besides being a driver myself, to make a judgment on safe driving (I could be an appalling driver, who knows!)

I wondered if anyone else carries out driving assessments on new drivers or just if a concern is raised? This has also now raised the issue of roadworthiness of the drivers own cars and whether we should make it part of our policy that in order to become a volunteer with us the drivers have to agree to have their cars serviced regularly.…

European Year of Volunteering – Health and Social Care

European Year of Volunteering – Health and Social Care

Hi All,

Age US is one of the delivery partners working with the Office for Civil Society as part of the European Year of Volunteering 2016. We are working on the themed months of November and December, which are focused on volunteering in health and social care, and active ageing. This is just a heads-up about what we are doing. We’re finalizing the details in the next few days when I’ll be able to let you know how to get involved.

Age US will be delivering three activities based on policy, practice and celebration.

Policy – Enabling older people to volunteer

We’re running two one-day conferences to identify the key issues affecting the involvement of older volunteers and provide recommendations on increasing their engagement. The first conference will be held on the 1st November in London so save that date in your diary

Practice – Delivering health and social care support to older people

We will be producing a practical and comprehensive guide that examines what volunteers can do to support the health and social care needs of older people. Its aim is to provide a practical, in-depth, illustration of the diversity of volunteer roles within health and social that can be implemented whether it be by a voluntary organization, a statutory service or other service provider.…

Sad to hear that is common elsewhere

Sad to hear that is common elsewhere

But also have to respond to the comment re funders. I worked for several years as a grants (distribution/development) officer in the UK, for local, London and national funding bodies, and then later as a trust/statutory fundraiser for groups. So I got to know a lots of the UK funders very well (although we do have literally thousands of funding trusts here, let alone statutory, individual etc!) and I would say the majority of independent funders apart from perhaps some very small local ones, plus many of the larger bodies such as Big Lottery in the UK, Capcitybuilders etc, have a very strong awareness of the positive ADDITIONAL value of involving volunteers and would be horrified at any suggestion of replacing paid staff with them.

In my honest experience from the other side of the fence as an “evil” funder (?!?!) it actually tends to be the charities themselves applying for the funding who undervalue both staff and volunteers, and decide to squeeze the budgets they put forward towards unrealistic or unethical use of job replacement by volunteers.

I do of course understand that specific funder’s application limits sometimes push groups in that direction, but honestly, I don’t feel it is at all fair to blame most independent (ie non-statutory)funders for that here, as they also have a very hard job (can already hear some booing and hissing at that stattement, but just try it!…