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Volunteer Power!

Volunteer Power News — Number 16
Author: Thomas W. McKee
"Volunteer Power News" Monthly Newsletter

© 2004 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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This Issue:

  • Ten Tips for Staying Sane About Your Board
  • When Volunteers are so busy they seem not committed

Next Issue: April - Building Strong Volunteer Teams during Times of Change and Transition.

Many of us who work in volunteer management depend on our board of directors. I came across a very helpful article about board members in Terry Axtelrod's "Ten Tips for Staying Sane about Your Board,". The article dispels some of the myths about the perfect board member and to establish a more sane and modern approach to cultivating each board member's inherent passion for your mission.

TERRY AXELROD is the founder of Raising More Money, a fundraising training organization offering hands-on intensive coaching workshops to organizations wanting to raise more money from individuals. I have gained great insights from her website, and her monthly newsletter. I recommend her highly.

By Terry Axelrod

1. Let go of any written or unwritten rules you may have about the "right" way for board members to participate in fundraising.

2. Above all, let go of the notion that all board members must ask others for money.

3. Accept the 20-60-20 rule when it comes to fundraising and your board. That is, 20% of the board will enjoy being involved in fundraising, 60% will be neutral about it, and the remaining 20% will want nothing to do with it.

4. Stop thinking that every other nonprofit organization's board members do more fundraising than your board members do. It's irrelevant (and highly improbable, anyway).

5. Recognize that your board members are volunteers who are giving you the gifts of their time and attention. In today's world, those gifts are more precious than money. They are not paid staff nor, in most cases, do they wish to become paid staff.

6. Know that your board members are looking to you to steer the fundraising process and to make requests of them as needed. Do not assume that anyone on your board wakes up each morning worrying about the fundraising needs of your organization.

7. Treat each board member with the care and respect that you would treat each major donor or potential major donor. If, over time, you consistently shower your board members with that level of personal attention and respect, many of them will naturally become significant donors.

8. Thank your board members sincerely and promptly for every little thing they do. A quick e-mail or voicemail "thank you" tells them that what they did mattered to you. Whether they have served on your board for ten months or ten years, make certain they know you do not take them for granted.

9. Meet with each board member individually once a year to be sure you understand what interests them most about your organization. Find out why they got involved on your board in the first place and what keeps them involved. When interacting with each board member, keep these interests and self-interests foremost in your mind. Let go of any expectations or illusions that these will ever change. Do your very best to fulfill these interests.

10. Make two lists and have them available as you meet or talk with each board member. (See suggested lists.)


1. Speak positively about your organization with the people in their day-to-day lives. Talk about the good work you are doing and share their genuine passion for your work.

2. Attend a Point of Entry Event at least once a year to update their knowledge of your program and get re-inspired. Give you their honest feedback afterwards.

3. Invite friends to attend Point of Entry Events, after the board member has become comfortable with the process. Within one week after the event, call these friends to thank them for attending.

4. Be the official board host at one of your generic, pre-scheduled Point of Entry Events once or twice a year.

5. Host a private Point of Entry for their friends or colleagues (or book club, etc.) in their home or office.

6. Attend one-on-one or small-group Point of Entry lunches with the Executive Director as necessary. Be prepared to tell why they got involved with the organization.

7. Attend Point of Entry Conversion Events (golf tournaments, galas, etc.) wearing a special board-member ribbon or nametag and be "on duty" as a proud representative of your organization throughout the event, ever alert to guests who might want more information.

8. Attend Free Feel-Good Cultivation Events in their "official" capacity as a board member. Genuinely thank and appreciate the guests for all they have given to your organization.

9. Make brief thank-you calls to recent donors. (Leaving a message is acceptable.)

10. Make a personal financial gift to your organization annually, of any amount they would like.


1. Be involved in planning the entire individual giving fundraising system for your organization.

2. Regularly review the lists of people who have attended Point of Entry Events and offer strategic advice and guidance about additional ways to involve or connect these potential donors.

3. Conduct open-ended telephone interviews with prior donors to gather feedback about what your organization could be doing better.

4. Ask selected donors or potential donors for financial contributions after the donors have been sufficiently educated, inspired, and involved.

5. Host additional private meetings or group cultivation events with major donors as needed.

Reprinted with permission of Raising More Money. © 2003 Terry Axelrod.

Volunteer Recruiting Is Not an Event-it is a Process

I recently received this question. The question made me look again at the process of recruiting and the resources that Volunteer Provides for your help-FREE.


I don't see any resources on actually recruiting volunteers. It seems as if all parents are so busy with their own work schedules, taking classes, and taking care of the family, they don't have the "time" or "energy" to volunteer for our children's ministry. How can I find volunteers for this growing and needed mid-week ministry?

The question is significant for two reasons:
1. Where do I find resources on "how to recruit"?
2. How can I recruit people who are so busy that they don't have time and energy to volunteer?

The question voices the frustration that many 21st Century volunteer managers are facing.

There is no one resource for recruiting volunteers because recruiting is a process, not an event. It includes all of the resources on Volunteerpower.com. Just like our personal development is a process--not an event. Therefore the recruiter often faces rejection and discouragement along the way. Let me offer some suggestions; however, to help you in how you approach recruiting;

1. Be flexible. Because people are so busy we cannot recruit volunteers like we did in the last century. Be careful not to label people as "not committed" because they are very busy.

2. Develop position charters for each position that allow for flexibility. I have examples of position charters on the resource page. Always begin your recruiting process by developing a position charter so people know exactly what they are getting into. Note the article "Oh, by the way."

3. Avoid the "Seven Sins of Recruiting". So many recruiters depend on announcements at meetings or newsletters to work. It doesn't work and usually the people who volunteer from those announcements we don't want. This article has seven suggestions for recruiting volunteers--just stated in what people are doing that doesn't work.

4. Some of the best resources are found in the articles page of the web site. I try to give suggestions that are working.

5. Join a Volunteer support group. I have found people from churches, scouts, hospitals, United Way, and environmental groups at the Association of Volunteer Administrators meetings when I do a workshop for them. They get a lot of ideas from that group. Visit their web site. Perhaps they have a local chapter in your city.


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 fill out our contact form.

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

For more articles by Thomas McKee, visit the Articles section on our website.

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