Home Books Resources Articles Workshops Contact Links
Volunteer Power!
Volunteer Power News - Number 101
Author: Thomas W. McKee
"Volunteer Power News" Monthly Newsletter

© 2011 Advantage Point Systems Publishing

A warm welcome to all volunteer managers-those of you who recruit, motivate and mobilize volunteer workers.

You are receiving this newsletter because you signed up or asked to be on the list. Please recommend this e-mail newsletter or ezine to anyone who is interested in volunteer management.

If this newsletter was forwarded to you and you'd like to receive your own personal issue each month, please subscribe to receive free tips on how to recruit, manage and motivate volunteers.

In This Issue
  1. Featured Article: One Third of Volunteers Do Not Return. How is Your Volunteer Retention?
  2. Check this Out: How to Use Technology to Mobilize the Collective Power of Volunteers
Featured Article: One Third of Volunteers Do Not Return. How is Your Volunteer Retention?
The annual Volunteering in America report for 2011 was released last month and has some interesting stats on the state of volunteerism in the US. The report, released by the Corporation for National and Community Service each year, is the most comprehensive longitudinal look at volunteering in the United States, spanning over a decade of service data.

One of the red flags of the report was volunteer retention. The report stated that over 1/3 of volunteers did not return.

Data from the Current Population Survey Volunteer Supplement show that about one third of volunteers tend to drop out of service each year. According to the most recent CPS data, 36.5 percent of 2009 volunteers - 23.1 million adults overall - did not volunteer again in 2010. This high rate of volunteer turn-over stunts the productivity of non-profit organizations as they focus on replacing volunteers instead of maximizing impact.

The report issued a call to action.

It's time to revive the call to action on volunteer retention. Each year about a third of Americans who served the previous year do not return the next year. Between 2009 and 2010, the retention rate dropped by two full percentage points, which could be a major reason why the rate overall dropped this year.

Why do people quit?

The report suggested the top reasons why volunteers stop serving and why non-volunteers don't volunteer.

  • They are not invited to volunteer: Personal invitations to serve are more appealing to prospective volunteers
  • There are myths about volunteering: Non-volunteers see themselves as essentially different from volunteers
  • Volunteering takes up too much time: Non-volunteers worry about having enough time to volunteer, but in fact, research shows that people who do not volunteer have more free time than volunteers do
  • Organizations do not implement effective volunteer management practices: Poor volunteer management turns people off of service
  • Organizations try to make a square peg fit in a round hole: Skills-based volunteering can bring in new volunteers. As such, be flexible about the types of opportunities you offer volunteers and assess their interests. For example, if you manage a tutoring program, you might find that a prospective volunteer might be less interested in tutoring, but might be more willing to utilize her marketing skills to help promote the program.
What does the volunteer report say to directors of volunteers?

The report uses the word "retention" to refer to any volunteers who do not come back after completing a volunteer assignment, whether it is a one-shot event or a year commitment. So the significant question is, "What can we do to keep them coming back?"

Susan Ellis, president of Energize Inc., reminded us that retention is not the goal-- it is the result of a well-led volunteer organization. I can't remember her exact words, but I was inspired some years ago when I got the point of her comments. When we are doing things right-- proper recruiting, leading, coaching, and empowering-- volunteer retention is not a problem. People will keep coming back. The bottom line is that we are not talking about retention, but effective leadership.

So what should we be doing?
  • It begins with marketing your organization to the public. Awaken a passion for your cause. Marketing also affirms volunteers so that they are thinking, "I am a part of this exciting cause."
  • Marketing is not recruiting. Recruiting is asking. Determine what you are asking people to do and then ask them.
  • Volunteer events are like a first date. If volunteers come to the event and have a great time, you can ask them for a second event (date), third event (date), and who knows, maybe even marriage to your organization as a full-time, excited volunteer.
  • When episodic volunteers become regular volunteers, outline all of the responsibilities very carefully. Of course you cannot do that if you don't have written policies and service descriptions for volunteers or screening procedures to identify suitable volunteers.
  • Recognize your volunteers by giving regular feedback.
  • Coach volunteersódo not manage them. The New Breed of Volunteer wants to be empowered.
We can help you train your staff on how to recruit and coach the New Breed of Volunteer.

Contact us to book a workshop or key-note presentation.

Check This Out: Using Technology to Mobilize he Collective Power of Volunteers
The following is an article that I wrote for Condo Board News about leading volunteers in a home owners association. Even though this article is specific for a homeowners association, I thought you would be interested in the technology aspect of volunteer leadership.

Using Technology to Mobilize the Collective Power of Volunteers

By Thomas W. McKee, Volunteer Power

E-mail is old school. Web pages are so 20th century. Are you still stuck in the 20th century or using 21st century Web 2.0 technology such as WIKIs,YouTube, Facebook, blogs and Twitter to crowdsource your volunteers?

Whoa? Crowdsourcing? Why do I want to crowdsource my homeowner's association members? Glad you asked, because crowdsourcing is the essence of volunteering. Crowdsourcing is a way to expand a task of one and open it to a large group of people. Homeowners associations have been doing that for years as they depended on crowds of volunteers to get the job done or sponsor an event. However, the social media has pushed crowdsourcing to a whole new level that is far beyond our wildest imagination. Crowdsourcing means creating short online activities that huge groups of people can do from their own computers in a short-period of time. With the use of the social media, you can recruit and retain your volunteers in effective and efficient ways.

Did you know that over 80% of people who watch YouTube videos and use Facebook and Twitter get involved in volunteer groups? In a new study by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project (The Social Side of the Internet), they found that social media users (Facebook, Twitter) are more likely to be active in volunteer groups: 82% of social network users and 85% of Twitter users are group participants.

This report raises a very important question for those who manage volunteers. How can you take advantage of the social media opportunity to enhance your volunteer community?

Did you know that over 80% of people who watch YouTube videos and use Facebook and Twitter get involved in volunteer groups?

Many HOAs plan events such as charity drives, concerts, holiday parties or educational programs. Most homeowners do feel like they should be doing something, and they want to get involved. Here are several suggestions to enhance such events with technology.

Facebook Facebook
Because all condo owners are part of a common interest community, start either a Facebook fan page or group page. Fan pages are generally better for a long-term relationship with your association members, while group pages are generally better for hosting a quick active discussion and attracting attention. Fan pages are visible to unregistered people. Unlike fan pages, group pages allow you to send out a "bulk invite" (you can easily invite all your members to join the event).

Facebook allows you to send a personal message to each volunteer who signs up through Facebook to introduce yourself. You can also post project photos of your events. A Facebook page also gives you a fast response format for feedback. Have a simple on-line survey with questions such as:
  • What were the strengths of the event?
  • How could we improve the event?
  • What ideas do you have for another event?
Twitter Twitter
When the flood water destroyed huge parts of Nashville, Tennessee, last May, Rev. Pete Wilson tweeted a need for volunteers, hammers, trash bags and brooms, and hundreds showed up to start relief work in and around a badly-flooded Nashville. "I love being able to mobilize so many volunteers ... so quickly," said Wilson, who has more than 54,000 Twitter followers. "I love that power of communication."

Create a Twitter account for your project and ask volunteers to "follow" the account. You can also share last minute project updates. During the project, upload and tweet photos for those who couldn't join that day to show them what they're missing.

YouTube YouTube
Create a video that makes a compelling case about why the project is important and asks people to get involved. Share the video through the project's Facebook page and share it via Twitter.

Wikipedia WIKI's
One of the great planning tools is a WIKI. You can eliminate many meetings by using a WIKI. WIKIs are most useful for creating collections of frequently asked questions, aiding process design, annotating business issues, reducing email floods, increasing efficiency where chronological discussions are unnecessary, and generally promoting creative thinking. To learn how to use a WIKI, Google "Wikis in Plain English" and view the 4 minute YouTube video.

So What?
Volunteer organizations often work so slowly. Web 2.0 speeds things up because you don't have to waste time sending documents back and forth either physically or through email. Web 2.0 gives more people in the organization more ownership of the volunteer work. It will remove many barriers of administration and bring more people together on collaborating work.

These are just a few examples of how technology will actually help the organization streamline costs and get more of the work done with more people. To find out more about how to use these tools, just Google any of the topics in this article and you will find a YouTube video on "how to . . ......" Let's face it; you can learn how to do almost anything on the web. Or check out the following websites for up-to date information:

Volunteer Power Key-Notes, Workshops, Or An Education Day
The New Breed of Volunteer
A Volunteer Power Workshop
Recruiting and leading the 21st Century volunteers who want to do it their way

Workshop Content

The questions: Volunteerism is hot. From American Idol, Disneyland, Glee, Lady Gaga, President Obama to Wells Fargo, Intel and Wal-Mart, giving back is the rage.

  • How do we take advantage of this trend in our organization?
  • How do we mobilize the passion and power of volunteers in a culture that sometimes stifles passion and professionalism because management only allows volunteers to stuff envelops?
The answer: A 21st Century leadership strategy. We need to know how to impact our volunteer culture so that we can recruit and empower a whole new breed of volunteers.

The 21st century volunteer culture is very different because of tectonic shifts that have changed volunteer leadership. These shifts have impacted the volunteer organization; therefore, how we recruit and lead the New Breed of volunteer is a whole new game. The tectonic shifts include the following:

  • Twitch Speed - The core characteristic of Lady Gaga is speed. She is doing in 10 minutes what it took Madonna ten years to achieve. How nimble is your organization in responding to today's volunteers?
  • Generations - Gen Y and retiring boomers-the new frontier of volunteers
  • Technology - The addition of social networks as a leadership tool
  • Empowerment - The knowledge worker demands to be led - not managed
  • Slacktivism - Getting involved with the click of a mouse
  • Episodic Volunteering - Sign up for only short-term projects or only when unemployed
A LEADER OF VOLUNTEERS STRATEGY: In this workshop you will learn ...
  • How to manage change: How to interpret a changing culture
  • How to empower the volunteer without dropping the ball
  • How to coach your volunteers instead of manage them: The four stages of coaching
  • How to frame your recruiting message in order to transition slactivists and episodic volunteers into valuable non-paid staff
Contact us to book a workshop or key-note.

Subscribe: If this newsletter was forwarded to you and you'd like to receive your own personal issue each month, please subscribe to receive free tips on how to recruit, manage and motivate volunteers.

You're receiving this recurring mailing because you either directly subscribed to the list, signed up on our website, or emailed a request to be subscribed. Volunteer Power respects your privacy: We won't rent, sell, or share your email address with any company, organization, or individual.

Please recommend this e-mail newsletter or Ezine to anyone who is interested in volunteer management. Thank you for reading this month's issue of Volunteer Power News!