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Volunteer Power!
Volunteer Power News - Number 112
Author: Thomas W. McKee
"Volunteer Power News" Monthly Newsletter

© 2012 Advantage Point Systems Publishing

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

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In This Issue
  1. Featured Article: Overlooked Priorities of Successful Volunteer Involvement
  2. Check this Out: A DOVIA one-day workshop lead by Tom McKee on The New Breed of Volunteer Calls for a New Breed of Leadership: South Dakota DOVIA (October 26th)
  3. The New Breed: The Second Edition of The New Breed is Here
Featured Article: Two Overlooked Priorities of Successful Volunteer Involvement
Two Overlooked Priorities of Successful Volunteer Involvement
By Thomas McKee

Watch out for the trap that creeps up on us. I call it the "neglect trap." Leaders of volunteers become so preoccupied with hot leadership topics such as the social media, empowerment, accountability, recruiting, and getting Gen Y and Boomers to work together (or even like each other), that they neglect the two most important priorities of volunteer engagement. The key word of that last sentence is the word "neglect." It is not that the other issues are not important. To effectively lead the New Breed of Volunteer the issues are important, but if we neglect the two major priorities, we can never be effective leaders.

The two priorities stand huge, and that is why I always start my workshops talking about the importance and power of these two significant leadership factors. The first priority is the engine of your volunteer involvement, and the second is the fuel that fires that engine. All other issues are powerless if we ignore these two priorities.

What are they?
  • Priority One: The engine of your volunteer effectiveness is the constant that remains solid in the changing world of volunteer involvement.
  • Priority Two: The fuel that keeps that engine fired up and going is passion.
Priority One: The engine of your volunteer effectiveness is the constant in a sea of change.

If you have been recruiting and leading volunteers for the last few years, you have experienced tectonic shifts that impact your effectiveness. We have a whole New Breed of volunteers because of changing family dynamics, technology, the growing number of retiring boomers, the knowledge worker, and the no-collar-Gen Y workplace. All of this has changed volunteer involvement, and we must know how to lead The New Breed of Volunteer.

BUT -- and there is a huge BUT.

A major factor has not changed. Too many times we focus on all of the changes and get discouraged. Richard Nelson Bowles, author of What Color Is Your Parachute, said this about change, "I have always argued that change becomes stressful and overwhelming only when you've lost any sense of the constancy of your life. You need firm ground to stand on. From there, you can deal with that change."
"I have always argued that change becomes stressful and overwhelming only when you've lost any sense of the constancy of your life. You need firm ground to stand on. From there, you can deal with that change."
Richard Nelson Bowles
Author: What Color Is Your Parachute

Before you get stressed out about the seismic shifts in volunteerism, let's stop and reaffirm your constant. What is it? It is the stability of your mission. In the midst of constant change your mission remains a constant. To deal with the stress of change, you can make sure you have not lost your sense of constancy by utilizing your mission. How?

Here is how it works.

Recently three experiences drove home the stability of mission. This summer I researched and wrote an article on volunteer involvement for the fall back-to-school issue of the national PTA magazine. Then a few months ago I had the privilege of spending a morning with the Girl Scouts leaders of Southern California, and in August I spoke to the national conference of the NHPCO (National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization). The PTA and Girls scouts have a history of over 100 years. Hospice and Palliative Care is fairly new to the United States, beginning in the 70s's. But these three organizations all have something in common-they all began with a mission that has remained constant in the sea of change. The role of women in our culture (Girl Scouts), education (PTA) and health care (NHPCO) have experienced major changes, but the mission of these organizations has remained strong and constant in the midst of those changes.

When Juliette Low started Girl Scouts in 1912, she wanted girls to build their own skills and values and give back to their country through leadership and service. That has not changed. Although the Girl Scouts have wordsmithed their mission statement to keep up which a changing rhetoric, the mission is the same-- "Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place."

For 115 years, PTA has promoted the education, health, and safety of children, youth, and families. The PTA's mission is a long-term, constant advantage over other groups that are trying to recruit parents to get involved. PTA leaders focus on the constant of emphasizing what they are doing to enhance the education, health and safety of children today.

Even though the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) changed its name in 2000 to include palliative care, their mission--"To lead and mobilize social change for improved care at the end of life"--has remained the same.

Your mission is the engine that powers your organization, and it is a constant in the sea of change. How you recruit and lead volunteers has to be up to date. But your starting point is your mission, and as leaders of volunteers you must constantly take advantage of the passion people have to see you accomplish your mission.

Quick Tips: What you can do to take advantage of your constant?
  1. Turn your mission into a mantra. Make it short--only a few words. (See Mantra, not mission on how to develop a mantra).
  2. Use your mantra in your marketing. Marketing will affirm your volunteers and make them proud to be a part of your team. It will also awaken the passion of potential volunteers. (See: How to develop your marketing piece to appeal to the pre-volunteer)
  3. Use your mission statement and mantra in your printed material to emphasize your cause.
Priority Two: The fuel that drives that mission is passion.

Leaders of volunteers know that it isn't just about a mission statement. Passion drives that mission, and without passion the mission is just a plaque hung on a wall. Parents in the PTA are passionate about their children, Girl Scout volunteers are passionate about preparing young women to be women of courage and character, and hospice volunteers are passionate about improving care at the end of life. Passion is always a starting point for recruiting volunteers. That has not changed.

For over 20 years I was a motivational speaker for the public and private sector. My job was to energize the managers and supervisors of an organization that was going through corporate changes, and the transition to a new organizational structure was sucking the passion out of its people. I often walked into a room of discouraged, cynical and angry people, and I had to awaken their passion with a dynamic, motivational speech. But ten years ago I had the opportunity to speak to a group of AVA volunteers in Wichita, Kansas, and what overwhelmed me as I walked into the training room that morning was the passion. I didn't have to awaken passion. The room was alive with energy. My job that day was to educate these leaders of volunteers on how to mobilize all of that passion into a powerful volunteer force to accomplish their vision. We had such an exciting day I was hooked, and Volunteer Power was born on the plane ride back to California the next day.

It all begins with passion. People get behind your mission because they have a passion for your cause. It is that simple. Our job as leaders of volunteers is to know how to tap into that passion and organize passionate people to accomplish our mission. That is a whole different topic--but for now let's celebrate the fact that at least we don't have to drum up passion--it is here.

Quick Tips:
  1. Give people the opportunities to use their professional skills to express their passion.
  2. Streamline your systems so that you are able to empower your volunteers. Knowledge workers will not tolerate micromanagement and passion becomes cynicism. We have a whole chapter on this in The New Breed.
  3. When you sponsor an event (i.e. golf tournament, community project, workday), work along side the new volunteers so that you get to know their passion. Ask them why they volunteered for this project. Listen carefully to discover their special skills and how their passion can help fulfill your mission.
  4. Keep the passion alive by giving constant feedback to your volunteers (a personal thank you is huge).
Many of you are taking advantage of these priorities. You have not forgotten the passion for a cause that got you excited in the first place. Like many of us, you probably got involved in a cause not realizing that it would mean recruiting and leading volunteers. You had a passion for your mission, but you may have known very little about recruiting and leading volunteers. That part was not as easy as you thought it would be. But when you began to learn the volunteer-engagement leadership skills that equipped you to mobilize passionate people for your passion, your mission became life consuming and exciting. You have such a significant and fulfilling job, and you are making a difference in the lives of the people you work with. Thank you, and keep up the great work.

Check this Out: A one-day New Breed Volunteer Power workshop is coming to DOVIA South Dakota on October 26th
Most of my workshops are not open to the public but are designed for a specific non-profit organization. However, I am going to be teaching a New Breed, Volunteer Power workshop that is open to the public this month.

The State-wide DOVI South Dakota state-wide conference on
October 26-a one-day training event
Sioux Falls, S.D.

Dovia: Directors of Volunteers in Agencies

What You Will Learn in this One-Day Workshop

Part I - The Strategic Challenge - The Changing Volunteer Culture
Part II - Seven Recruiting Best Practices
  • Marketing - awakening the passion of potential volunteers
  • Networking - finding a Bev
  • Transitioning - moving from episodic to full-time
  • Selling - facing the fact that you are in sales
  • Framing - focusing your recruiting message
  • Panicking - avoiding BIC
  • OBTWing - using the position charter
Part III - Four Leadership Strategies
  • Motivating
  • Empowering
  • Reframing
  • Coaching
Part IV - Evaluating Your Practices and Strategies

Date: Friday, October 26, 2012
Time: 8:30am - 3:45pm

Contact us to book a workshop, key-note presentation for your organization.

The New Breed: The Second Edition Has Arrived

We are offering a special on the second edition of the New Breed-20% off

The New Breed
Recruiting, Training,
and Occasionally Even Firing
Today's Volunteers

OUR PRICE: ONLY $13.59 (20% OFF)

The book that Zig Ziglar calls,
"Eye Opening and thought Provoking!"

The perfect resource to help you mobilize
the team of people you've always wanted!"


"The New Breed" Just Got Better!

We just sharpened the tool that has been helping volunteer
recruiters and managers survive the last 5 years!

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