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Volunteer Power News - Number 117
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: Seven Creative Ideas From Volunteer Leaders Who Are Doing It Right
Seven Creative Ideas From Volunteer Leaders Who Are Doing It Right

People often ask me, "Tom, what are some effective volunteer involvement practices used in engaging the New Breed of Volunteer?" In the past two months I've had the opportunity to deliver keynote addresses to three very successful organizations. I always enjoy attending a few workshops after I speak to hear what groups are doing and hear about their best practices. Here are seven ideas that are effective.

#1: Youth volunteer engagement: "Scrub's Camp"

The youth volunteers put on scrubs for "Scrub's Camp" day at Mon General Hospital in Morgantown, West Virginia. Christina Brown, Director of Volunteer Services, has 60 junior volunteers who serve a 200-bed hospital. She says that if she can recruit a junior volunteer at age 14, the training is worthwhile because she can keep that volunteer for four years (until they graduate from high school). How does she keep them for four years? Every junior volunteer wants to be totally involved and hands-on. They want interaction with the doctors, so Christina started something called "Scrubs Camp," which is a one-day event. The junior volunteers are divided into groups, dressed in scrubs, and sent to eight hospital departments. For example, one group will visit the morgue where they get to touch a heart, a diabetic leg, and a black lung (and talk about the effects of smoking on the lungs). Then they might go into surgery, get scrubbed up and learn about everyone's role in an operation. They actually get to work the machines to take out the body parts, such as a gall batter. Christina claims that they are much better at using the robot surgery machines than she is because they have played so many computer games. Oh, by the way, the corpse is a training dummy, named Morgan, and the body parts are Snicker bars, Hershey candies, and Tootsie Rolls. Morgan blinks, talks back, and vomits, and the junior volunteers love the experience. "Scrubs Camp" is a brilliant, creative idea to retain junior volunteers.

#2: The benefits of filling volunteer positions with executive staff on volunteer recognition day

Eileen McConville, Director of Volunteer and Auxiliary Services at New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, North Carolina, told me that this was the best idea that she had ever had-and as I listened to her, I agreed it was a winner. On Volunteer Recognition day last month, she took her volunteers out for breakfast. O.K., who hasn't done that? But what was so unique was whom she recruited to fill all those volunteer positions. She got the executives, doctors, security personnel, and executive staff to fill the vacant volunteer roles for the two-hour breakfast. The substitute volunteers (hospital staff) even shadowed the volunteer for a couple of hours so that they would know what to do.

What were the results? First, the volunteers loved joking at breakfast how the hospital would fall apart without them in their positions. Those conversations were the hot topic of breakfast. Second, and most important, the executives and staff recognized just how important the volunteers are to the hospital. Last year one of the managers of radiology drove a golf cart. He said, "I'm always in my office handling budgets or doing evaluations or paper work, but today I was able to connect with a family. I heard about a man whose wife was dying of cancer, and I was actually able to be with him and listen to him and talk with him. It felt so good to help him." And then he told Eileen, "When I grow up, I want to be a volunteer."

#3: The power of Facebook to call volunteers to action

Jennifer Baier, Associate Director for Digital Strategies for AARP Illinois, told a wild story about Erma, a member of AARP. Even though she was not on Facebook herself, Erma was instrumental in a very significant call to action. Jennifer was talking to her volunteers about the power of Facebook and took a picture of Erma calling her legislator about a proposed change in Social Security legislation. Jennifer told the other volunteers in the room that this picture of Erma would inspire other volunteers to take action-and it did. They posted the picture, and over 950 people called their legislators. Erma called her friends and daughter and said, "Hey, I'm on Facebook." Jennifer pointed out that even though Erma was not on Facebook herself, she could be involved and inspire others to be involved in the AARP calls to action. What a great way to use the social network to make some noise for your cause, your organization, or your event. To read more on "making noise" see "Eight ways to Make Some Noise and Get Everyone Talking (and Tweeting) About Your Volunteers." And to read more on using the social media and aps, see, Crowdsourcing and Micro-volunteering.

#4: Absence is not a liability

Retired Boomer
"I want to volunteer where my presence is an asset, but my absence is not a liability."
Recently a close friend of ours who is a retired boomer said to me, "I want to volunteer where my presence is an asset, but my absence is not a liability." When Sharon made this statement, I quickly had her repeat it, and I wrote it down. The next week I put it on a Keynote slide and shared it with the AARP leaders who were focusing on recruiting boomer volunteers. We agreed that Sharon's statement expresses the feelings of many retiring boomers. They want to do something significant, but they also want to be on the go and not be tied down. Many would rather not volunteer at all than leave an organization in the bind when they are not there.

I listened to some of the table discussions and heard several people mention that they are using the "team approach" in working with retiring boomers. Boomers hate committee work, but they will get involved in a high-capacity team. I responded to what AARP is suggesting because I travel a lot and I want to volunteer for my church and community. When I work on a team, especially on a team that does a lot of work on WIKIs, I am able to lend my expertise digitally and arrange meetings on our busy schedules. And the team can fill in the gaps when volunteers are on the go.

#5: It's not about recruiting-It's about building relationships--The 80/20 Rule of recruiting

"I don't focus on recruiting. I focus on building relationships." That was the statement by Julie Cain Burkhard, the leader of a recruiting workshop that I attended at the Delta Gamma Leadership Institute. She said that people get involved because of relationships. This is especially true with boomers because they love being with people who share common interests and causes.

So how do we build relationships that get people to join with us? Anyone who has attended our workshops knows that we emphasize the 80/20 rule-listen 80% and talk 20%. Because we are so passionate about our mission and our need for volunteers, we often reverse that rule and talk 80% and listen 20%. If you want to improve your recruiting skills, quit talking so much and listen. After we have listened and built relationships, we have won the right to say, "I'd love to have you join our team of volunteers for this project."

#6: Taking the time to play golf and tennis

"I've spent my time raising my children and being committed to my career. I'm retired now and love the time to play golf and tennis. If you want me to volunteer, you need to fit in my schedule." This was a comment by one of the volunteers who was recruiting retired Delta Gamma Women's Fraternity alumni for some of their projects. The room nodded with understanding and acceptance because they were hearing the same kind of comments from their volunteers. Someone in the room raised the question, "So how do you provide flexibility? Give us some examples." Good question.

The woman who was speaking answered, "We work around their schedules. We have older folks who don't want to go out at night. We have meetings, events and projects that give opportunity to those folks. For the active boomers who have just retired, many of them respond to an evening program. Most of them don't like long meetings, but the love the relationships. And we have even run some golf tournaments to raise money. That is a winner."

#7: An in-house leadership conference dedicated 100% to engaging The New Breed of Volunteer

The six creative ideas I heard are from three very cool organizations-leaders who are doing it right. Yet they wanted to learn how to sharpen their volunteer engagement skills. Therefore, they were holding leadership conferences that were dedicated 100% to volunteer engagement.

Delta Gamma Fraternity leadership institute. Over 350 volunteers gathered at their headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, for two days of intensive leadership development. These women recruit and lead the Delta Gamma alumni in many humanitarian projects and also serve as advisors for the Delta Gamma Fraternities on campus. They had purchased 350 copies of The New Breed and gave a copy to each person. It is always fun and energizing to speak to a people who have our book.

AARP leadership conference. Over 300 of their paid staff met to help each other focus on engaging boomer volunteers. I delivered a keynote/workshop to launch the conference. They had purchased 300 copies of The New Breed and discussed the content of the book as they met in small groups.

SHVL (South Eastern Healthcare Volunteer Leaders) leadership conference. Over 300 directors of volunteers, auxiliaries and volunteers gathered for their annual convention. I delivered the keynote and facilitated several workshops.


Two suggestions to learn more about creative ideas that are working:

  1. 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

  2. Or ask us about running your own leadership conference dedicated to engaging the New Breed of Volunteer. Contact us about what we can do for you.

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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