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Volunteerpower News December 2003


Volunteer Power News December 2003

Author: Thomas W. McKee

"Volunteer Power News" Monthly Newsletter

©2003 Advantage Point Systems, Inc. Publishing


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

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The December Issue:

Restoring that Volunteer Passion When They Are Experiencing the Holiday Blahs.

I love the holiday season--I always have. I enjoyed it as a kid, when I was first married, as my children were growing and now it is even more exciting with our grandchildren. But December often is one of the most stressful months of the year. People are attending holiday social events, special seasonal fund raisers and programs in addition to my volunteer duties. As a board member of a graduate school I always had to make 25 phone calls to donors encouraging them to make end-of the year gifts. It can be a stressful time. At times I just want to say, “Forget it--this year I am doing nothing!”

How do I restore the passion for our volunteers when they are so stressed out?

There are two options:

Option One: Tell everyone to take the month off and say, “Let's meet in January.”
Option Two: Use the season's activities to say “thank you for all you do” and lead your volunteers in a “passion restoring” experience.

I personally go for the second option, although the first is not a bad idea if people are overwhelmed. For ten years my wife Susie and I sponsored a sit down dinner in our home for our board members, staff and their spouses or a special friend (often about 24 people attended). Although it was a big event for us and another scheduled event for each of them, I wanted to make sure that they all left feeling that the evening was not only fun, entertaining and worth the filled day on the December calendar, but I wanted them to leave with a new passion for the next year. We served them a formal dinner and then had an evening of activities. Susie and I would provide the main course the others would bring the rest of the food. One winner activity was to break the group up into four teams to write and sing creative verses to “the 12 days of Christmas”each group taking a couple of verses.

I would hand to each group instructions like the following:

Group for Verses, 2, 6, and 9

Your group is to complete the verses to the following verses:
Please use gifts that are specific to our organization of volunteers.

On the second day of Christmas, the _______ (organization) gave to me Two ____________________________________.

On the sixth day of Christmas, the _________ (organization) gave to me Six ______________________________.

On the ninth day of Christmas, the ______________(organization) gave to me Nine ______________________________.

We will all sing together

On the First day of Christmas the ________ (organization) gave to me A new member waiting on line three

On the fifth day of Christmas, the _________ (organization) gave to me Five dysfunctional committees.

The song ended up something like this:

On the first day of Christmas, the Museum gave to me
A new member waiting on line three
Two lawsuits a pending
Three phones a ringing
Four Big Hairy Audacious Goals
Five dysfunctional committees

Verse five was always wild with outrageous harmony and laughter.

On one occasion, after we had written and performed our song, I asked them to each tell us why they originally got involved with our organization in the first place. What was it that excited them to choose our organization? We started around the room and one by one they told their stories of how they watched us from the outside. They hadn't been particularly interested in our cause, yet they became intrigued as they began to learn about it. There was a moment when each of them got hooked. For some that incident was when another board member invited them to see what we do. But each one had an incident that had stirred them enough personally to dedicate themselves to our group. Something magical occurred in their telling their stories to each other. It was like asking a long-married couple to tell you the story of how they first met and fell in love, They were personally re-inspired and surprised that they had indeed lost that passion. For many of us, although we had been working together for years, we had never heard these stories. Some of the stories were very personal, moving, or silly. We gained a deeper respect for each other. But most of all, we were reminded of the validity of our cause. We had renewed energy and passion for going out there and telling the story of the organization to the community. We were reminded of just how important the work of the organization was. And all of this only took about an hour. After we had all shared, I thanked the board and staff for their dedication, the hard work they had done throughout the year and gave them a small gift to show our appreciation. The evening consisted of the elements of restoring passion. It was a combination of the following:

·Community building activities
·Story telling
·And most of all, “Thanks so much for what you all mean to me”
Other Holiday Ideas

·Send each volunteer a special gift certificate with a personal thank you note
·Publish a special holiday season thank you newsletter with pictures and quotes from your volunteers
·Send gift baskets to your volunteers
·Give your volunteers a month off with and then do a special “new year kick off” in January.
·Give your volunteers a special Christmas tree ornament that so that they will remember their service each year when they decorate the tree.

Energize offers some suggestions at http://www.energizeinc.com/ideas/holiday.html

http://www.energizeinc.com/ideas/holiday.html Let me take this time to thank all of you who subscribe to Volunteer Power's monthly magazine with FREE resources. Your letters are encouraging to us to continue this service. Have a great holiday season.

Tom McKee


Is your organization part of a larger professional association, or a statewide, regional or national organization? Does that group have local, regional or national meetings and conferences? Would you like a Volunteer Power Session presented at one of those meetings? Our fast paced 1.5-hour session is a stand-alone training designed to introduce staff, board and volunteers to a systematic model for building the volunteer team. Participants learn a practical, effective approach for dynamic volunteer teams. For more information, or to recommend an organization looking for such a program, please go to our Web Site at: http://www.volunteerpower.com/ and fill out the form.


For more articles by Thomas McKee, visit the Articles Section on our website at: http://www.volunteerpower.com/articles/

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Thomas W. McKee
Volunteer Power

Tom McKee is a leading volunteer management speaker, trainer and consultant. You can reach Tom at (916) 987-0359 or e-mail him at tom@advantagepoint.com. Other articles and free resources are available at http://www.volunteerpower.com.