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Volunteer Power!

Volunteer Power News — Number 22
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: Cool stuff that you have never heard before

I was preparing to speak at a convention of volunteer managers and I was calling members asking them the two questions that I often ask when I am preparing my presentation.

  • What are you looking for from your presenter? (Or, what is your biggest need?)
  • What don't you want to hear?

One person summed up what everyone else was saying when she said to me these two statements:

  • I want to hear something I have never heard before
  • I don't want to hear what we always hear-the "R's" of volunteer management, "recruit, reward, remind, re-frame, retain, refresh, restore, and retire."

Wow-what a challenge. But this volunteer manager was saying what we all feel, "Does anyone out there have any fresh ideas.

YES! I took the challenge and developed a presentation "Ten Things You Haven't Heard Before."

Here they are: This month I will give you the overview-next month I will begin a series talking about one or two a month. If you want to hear them all, they make a great training day or conference speech.

I will be presenting this information in Kansas City in October for Compeer-an very impressive organization that recruits volunteers to serve as advocates, mentors, and friends to very special adults and children being treated for mental health and emotional problems. Compeer began with only 12 friendships in Rochester and has grown to 120 programs in 33 states, Canada and Australia.

Ten Cool Things You Need to Know About Volunteer Management

  1. Motivation: Some Cats Got It, Some Cats Don't (to quote the Big Bopper). There is nothing you can do to motivate volunteers. Motivation is an inside job and people do things for their reasons, not yours. So what? You know this. But what you don't know is how to create a volunteer culture that stimulates the inside motivation of each volunteer. If volunteer managers knew how to do this, they would have a highly charged, motivated volunteer staff.

  2. Passion: Passion is more than motivation. Passion is why you get out of bed in the morning. Passion is the synergistic connection of your gifts, your temperament, and your motivation focused on a cause. Oh, you know this also. But what most volunteer managers don't know is how to tap into this passion.

  3. Networking: Its not who we know. We all know that strategic alliances are the core of finding a network of volunteers. But what we don't know is that "its not who you know." If it were whom you know, then you would never be looking for volunteers. The key to a network is the people who know the people you know. I have a lot to say about this--how to build strong networks and which doors to knock on.

  4. Recruiting: (Sorry-I know its an R) This one is very simple. People don't volunteer. Volunteer isn't a verb-it is a noun. What does that mean? It means that we quit our "pleeeeeeeease volunteer". It means that announcements work sometimes, but most of the time people want to be asked. Bottom line-people don't volunteer, they want to be asked.

  5. Leadership: Creative, out of the box, strategic thinking is needed in volunteer management. So many volunteer managers just do it the way it's been done for 100 years and the 21st century volunteer is so different. We need a new kind of leader for changing days

  6. Marketing: Permission vs. interruption marketing is essential for the volunteer manager. Here I lean on the writings of Seth Godin and the power of your organization's web site and your e-zine.

  7. Branding: Branding is not just for COKE. Girl Scouts have a brand. United Way has a brand. Campus Life has a brand. What about your organization. Your brand may be international-which is best; however, a local brand can be powerful. I am reminded of the three Pizza stores who put signs in front of their store. One sign read, "Best Pizza in the state." The second one read, "Best Pizza in the Nation." But the third one read, "Best Pizza on the block." You can have a brand that is local and powerful. Test it against the DNA of branding-Dependability, Novelty, and Attitude.

  8. Retention (whoops another R). There is a very simple, very inexpensive way to retain volunteers. It is not in prizes and awards. It is in one word. Feedback. I want to talk about the importance feedback. Well, I know, this is not really new. It is really very old, but probably the most important of all of these 21st century ideas and there are some 21st century ideas on how to give feedback.

  9. Managing: If anything is going to happen. Peter Drucker said, "If anything is going to happen, everything degenerates to work." Volunteer management is hard work. It is a 24 hour a day, seven day a week job. And you are never finished. How do you know that you have had a good day? How can you be sure you have had a good day when ten people have said "No"? There are ways

  10. Evaluation: Getting a good scorecard. We so often exaggerate our successes and rationalize our failures. Good evaluation is difficult. Let me ask you one question, "Do you know why your volunteers quit?" There is a wealth of information in the answer to that question.

Here are the ten cool things about managing volunteers. I tackle one or two a month for the next ten months. E-mail me and let me know which one you would like to hear about first. (Tom@advantagepoint.com). I set the priority by your response.

Oh by the way, for those of you have been reading my newsletter and articles for the past few years-none of this stuff is new to you-because what I have been saying for the past few years is, "We have to think a new way about how we mobilize the power of the 21st century volunteer."

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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