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Volunteer Power News - Number 116
Author: Thomas W. McKee
"Volunteer Power News" Monthly Newsletter

© 2013 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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Featured Article: Four Strategic Challenges of The New Breed of Volunteer Involvement
Four Strategic Challenges of The New Breed of Volunteer Involvement

My wife Susie and our 17-year-old granddaughter Alyssa with me I just spent two weeks volunteering on a team in Uganda. After a wonderful, exhausting, life-impacting volunteer experience in Uganda last year, I returned for a second year. Last year I was reminded of what it is to be a volunteer when you are not in charge. This year, I still wasn't in charge, but I was able to put into practice many of the lessons from The New Breed about involving volunteers. In this e-zine I want to describe four volunteer involvement challenges and a leadership skill to tackle each challenge.

The First Challenge: Recruiting - Where do you find your best volunteers?

Recruiting for this team was textbook New Breed. We became a positive example of avoiding Deadly Sin Number #2 - Go it alone.

But now we had a problem-- What do we do with all of these high-capacity, very professional volunteers?
Leadership skill--don't go It alone: Last year we had one team of 18 volunteers. This year we expanded and have three teams of 50 people who are taking time off of work and paying a significant amount of money to spend two weeks in Uganda. Why the incredible growth of this venture?

I became so passionate about my experience that I began recruiting for the next year the moment I got home. I started with my family and recruited my wife and 17-year-old granddaughter. In a few months I had talked to three other families to join our team. Before long our team had a six teenagers, a CFO of a national company, a CEO, two small business owners, a geologist, a university professor, a retired nurse, a grade school teacher, an ultra-sound technician, a professional cinema-photographer (who wanted to capture this all on film), two stay-at-home moms (mothers of two of the teenagers), a recent college graduate in computer science, our team leader and me--a speaker and writer who is passionate about volunteering. In addition to our team, two other teams will travel in June and September.

In The New Breed I sing the praises of Bev, a visionary, retired school principal who became excited about tutoring at the Earl Warren Elementary School in Sacramento. Before long Bev had 40 enthusiastic volunteers going to Earl Warren School each week. I became that Bev for our Uganda team. The best advice that I can give on recruiting is to find a bunch of Bevs. Whether you are recruiting for a hospital, museum, Girl Scouts or a church children's program, look for the Bevs who by their passion and winsomeness provide more volunteers than you can use.

But now we had a problem-what do you do with all of these high-capacity volunteers? The answer to that problem was the second leadership skill for volunteer involvement.

Challenge Two: Leading a team of high-capacity movers and shakers

Leadership skill-Carefully define roles and responsibilities: In a rather insightful, reflective moment, our team leader shared with me this concern, "What am I going to do with all of these movers and shakers who are working along side of six teenagers?" It was a good question because we were not going on this trip to see the animals of Africa (although we did see two lions, elephants, rhinos, giraffes, baboons, and tons of monkeys). All of us wanted to do something significant, and the team leader felt this pressure.

As I spent time with the team leader, we began to carve out responsibilities for a very diverse team of professionals. This is a huge pressure all of you face when recruiting the New Breed of Volunteer because 21st century volunteers are passionate about using their professional skills. Before we could organize into working teams, we worked with our Uganda partners (a critical part of these teams), and determined some of the needs. They included health care training, AIDS prevention, leadership development, financial workshops, and children's soccer and recreation.

Teaching at a leadership workshop through an interpreter We divided into four teams. My granddaughter was part of a team that spoke in high school assemblies about AIDs prevention. She had been trained by a local African leader and is very articulate. My wife Susie organized a team of women who taught the women. They gave each of the women a health kit and talked to them about health issues. They also led discussion groups with the women about social issues. It was difficult because most of these women were raising 5-8 children in polygamist families. The women's team did a lot of caring and listening.

Another team focused on leadership development. I was part of this team and loved the interaction with some of the same men I had worked with last year. Most of these men were farmers, working a small piece of land and raising only enough to support their families; in addition, they were ministers in small village churches. In African culture these ministers have great influence in their villages. They wanted to learn how to be better leaders and how to mobilize their church members to make a difference. We taught them principles of leadership, study skills, communication skills, and money management.

Teaching 'Duck, Duck, Goose, Goose' And many of the teenagers spent time with the children. They would organize games and play with the children while we were running our training conferences. The CFO on our team had played college soccer and was a coach of a select youth soccer team. He played and coached soccer for almost six hours a day and came home saying, "I'd love to come back for a year to teach English and coach soccer." He loved the change from crunching numbers every day.

The Position Charter

During the months before our trip, our entire team met four times for culture emersion training. We often would end our training sessions by breaking down into our specific team assignments. Susie and I defined the roles of our assigned teams so that we each knew our responsibilities. For my team, I used a simplified, modified form of the position charter to outline each of our assignments. To see an example of a position charter and how to write one, check out this link: position charter.

Challenge Three: Leading a multi-generational team ranging in age from 17 to early 70s

Our Team at Murchison Falls with our African Partners Leadership skill-- Capture the passion of the bookend generations: One of the greatest experiences of this trip was the generational diversity. My generation, retired boomers, are eager to make a difference and use our training, skills, and resources to help serve with others. I know we are opinionated and sometimes hard to work with, but we are a huge resource. Just remember to give us a specific task and empower us to get it done. And the younger generation is ready and willing to get involved. They remind me of my generation when we were in our 20's responding to President's Kennedy's one liner-"Think not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." And our team leader pointed out to us that he loved having teenagers with us because it made the adults shape up and not complain when things got tough. We felt a responsibility to our younger team members to be positive when experiencing some of these discomforts:
  • Sleeping under mosquito nets (which made me almost claustrophobic).
  • The heat--sometimes in the 90's with no air conditioning (or air-conditioned seats in our cars).
  • Long 10 and 12-hour travel days in crowded vans over the roughest roads I have ever seen. One time we had 14 people and a live chicken (someone's dinner) in an 11-passenger van.
  • Rice as a steady diet, with warm bottles of water and soda (how we missed ice).
  • The schedule was not "hurry up and wait." It was only wait. For example, our team attended an African wedding for 12 couples, and it was supposed to start at 11:00 a.m. Our team was seated in the hot mud chapel at 11:00, and the wedding did not start until 1:00 p.m. For a person who is so time conscious, this was a huge adjustment for me.
  • Trying to slow down my rate of speech for the poor translator.
Challenge Four: We are so busy leading volunteers we neglect the opportunity to volunteer ourselves.

Leadership skill-Experience what it is to be a team member and not always the team leader. We who often lead volunteers get so busy in our own world that we forget we have some huge skills to offer in a world of need. Many of us need to get out of our comfort zones just like we ask our volunteers to do. The importance of this essential is not only the part we play in making a difference, but it also helps us to evaluate our own leadership skills.

Thanks for all you do in leading volunteers. When I look over my mailing list, I am so encouraged by what you do with volunteers to change a world that has huge needs. One of the qualities that we all have in common is that even though we get discouraged and tired, we see the great potential in what we do-volunteer power.

To learn more about The New Breed of Volunteer Involvement, get your copy of the second edition of The New Breed-recruiting, training, motivating and occasional even firing the 21st Century Volunteer. Order Here


Volunteer Power Key-Notes, Workshops,
Or An Education Day
Unleashing the Power and Passion of
A Whole New Breed of Volunteer

A Volunteer Power Workshop
Recruiting and leading the 21st Century volunteers who want to do it their way

Volunteers are passionate and the strategic challenge for leaders of volunteers is to know how to awaken this passion for our cause, and then mobilize passionate people for our cause. This is difficult because passionate people are often a pain.

These three workshops are filled with learning activities, case studies, and short video clips for discussion.

Keynote Presentation: The New Breed of Volunteer

The New Breed of Volunteer is very different from the 20th century volunteer. In this keynote presentation you will discover what the 21st century volunteer expects and what you must do if you want to recruit and lead the new breed of volunteer. We can't expect them to change, so we must know how to adapt our leadership style. Some of the characteristics of the New Breed of Volunteer are:
  • Are passionate
  • Are episodic
  • Are slacktivists
  • Are knowledge workers -don't want to stuff envelopes
  • Are a busy
  • Are in a hurry
  • Are often either technologically dependent or technologically hopeless
But I do not leave you wondering what to do. I will demonstrate how to recruit and lead the New Breed of Volunteer, by giving several leadership gifts, which include:
  • A green banana
  • A new piece of music
  • A button to push
  • A postage stamp
Follow-Up Workshop: The Seven Deadly Sins of Recruiting Volunteers

When we wrote the book, The New Breed, recruiting and leading the 21st Century Volunteer, in our research (and over 60 combined years of experience in leading volunteers), we identified the biggest mistakes that volunteer leaders are making in recruiting volunteers. In this workshop we will learn how easy it is to fall into the temptation of these traps, and what we must do to have a successful recruiting and screening process. The top mistakes were the following, which we have now labeled the Seven Deadly Sins of Recruiting:
  1. Expect announcements to get volunteers (The difference between marketing and sales)
  2. Ask for marriage instead of a date (How to awaken the passion of a future volunteer for your ministry)
  3. Think that "NO" means "NO" (how to turn a "NO" into a "YES" without sounding like a high-pressure sales person.
  4. Go it alone (Building a recruiting network)
  5. Ignore the book-end generation (Gen Y and retiring boomers)
  6. Fall into the BIC syndrome (I need ten volunteers today)
  7. Use the four words that volunteers hate: Oh, By the Way
Follow-Up Workshop: Unleashing the Passion of the New Breed of Volunteer

The content of the workshop focuses on how 21st century leaders must mobilize the unlimited power and passion of volunteers. Participants of the workshop will learn how to focus the energy of passionate volunteers. It's less about "management" and more about "empowerment." The participants will probe these topics:

Leadership strategies to unleash the passion
  • What is passion?
  • What destroys passion?
  • Why is passion not enough?
  • How to you keep the passion alive?
  • Coaching: The four phases of performance coaching
  • Coaching tools: Direction and trust (how to use these tools)
  • Empowerment; The five steps of empowerment
Contact us to book a workshop, key-note presentation.



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