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Volunteer Power News — Number 23
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.

You are receiving this newsletter because you signed up or asked to be on the list. Please recommend this e-mail newsletter or ezine to anyone who is interested in volunteer management.

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Cool stuff that you have never heard before Follow Up

Thank you for your fantastic response to our last newsletter "Cool Stuff that you never heard before." Many of you responded and the top suggestions for follow up are the following:

Number One: Motivation -- How to keep my volunteers motivated so that they keep their commitments
Number Two: Recruiting -- How to get quality people to join our volunteer team.
Number Three: Networking -- How to build strategic alliances to find volunteers
Number Four: Branding -- How to establish a well recognized brand such as "Habit for Humanity" or "BMW—the Ultimate Driving Experience" for our organization.
Number Five: Retention -- How to keep our quality volunteers from quitting
Number Six: Managing -- How to juggling multiple projects of volunteer management.

There you have the next six newsletters.

This Issue: Motivation - How do I motivate my volunteers so that they keep their commitments?

Five strategies to keep your volunteers excited and passionate about their volunteer work.

Number One: Document, Document, Document

Most of us think we are doing far more motivating than we really are. Try this experiment for one month and check out your motivation strategies.

Keep a notebook on your desk with the name of everyone of your volunteers. Every time you give positive feedback to one of your volunteers, put a mark. At the end of the month note how much feedback you have given to each volunteer. Who are you missing? Who are you not encouraging? Who is getting all of the positive feedback.

Strategy Two: Positive Feedback

Feedback is the number one motivator. How are you using the following methods.

  1. Handwritten note of appreciation: Keep a stack of notes on your desk and send out at least one note each week (depending on how many volunteers you have). A volunteer should receive two handwritten notes a year from you.
  2. Food: Take a volunteer out to breakfast, lunch, or coffee. I always made sure that I met once a month with each of my board members for lunch or breakfast (I only had six board members). If you have more, you might schedule a meal time once a quarter. And always try to have refreshments at your volunteer meetings.
  3. On your turf: When a volunteer is working in your office (a mailing, bookwork, office work) make a point to drop by and thank them for their work. It only takes 3-5 minutes, but it pays off big-especially if your are the executive director, executive V.P. or head of staff (senior pastor). Most of those volunteers want to see you (and have you see them working) and that is O.K. One exception. The VDPs (Very Draining People) who just come by the office and talk-and do nothing. Don't waste your time with VDPs.
  4. Birthdays: My secretary would place a birthday card of each of our volunteers on my desk with the date of their birthday written where I would place the stamp. Each Monday morning, I would spend the first 15-20 minutes of the week writing a personal note on the card and mail it out to them so that they would receive the card on their birthday. At one time we had over 1,000 volunteers working in our organization. Figure it out-that is almost 3 birthday cards a day (or about 20 cards written each Monday). My 15 minutes began to last an hour-but I gave that task as one of my top priorities. Maybe that is why we had over 1000 volunteers.

Strategy Three: Rewards

Last week I was speaking at local chapter of DOVIE (Directors of Volunteers In Agencies) and I was asked this question, "Do you recommend giving out rewards? Our experience is that it promotes a few and announces to the others that they are losers. And it often creates hard feelings."

I answered that question this way.

I am a firm believer in rewards - if you follows these rules:

  1. A reward is for outstanding service that no one will question. You don't give out an award just because it is your annual rewards banquet, or quarterly award time. Give out an award only when you can truly recognize outstanding volunteer service.
  2. Announce, publicize, and read all that the volunteer has done to receive this award. When the announcement is made everyone will say, "Wow-they deserve this," and there is no question.
  3. Make the award significant. Don't just give a plaque or certificate. Give something that the volunteer will remember. Give out something like two tickets to "Phantom of the Opera", or a significant gift certificate to a great restaurant.

Strategy Four: Conferences and Workshops

Send your volunteer leaders to a special conference for your organization. When you send a volunteer to a conference, you are sending a message that they are significant. The conference also becomes a networking opportunity with other volunteers. DOVIA and AVA are two organizations that have local chapters for volunteer leaders and they offer regular training sessions. National conferences are exciting. I am going to be attending the Youth Specialties Convention in Atlanta this weekend. Many youth leaders bring their volunteers teams with them to get ideas, have fun and be crazy (no one is more crazy than volunteers who work with kids).

Strategy Five: Budget

I recommend that you put 10% of your annual budget for volunteer motivation (awards, training, conferences, etc.)

These are just five motivation strategies that work, but the most important one is number 1 - because it gives you feedback on how you are doing.

For more motivation ideas, or expanded illustrations of these ideas, check out "How to Motivate Volunteers."

Next newsletter: Recruiting. How can I find committed volunteers?

Thank you for reading this month's issue of Volunteer Power News.

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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Please recommend this e-mail newsletter or ezine to anyone who is interested in volunteer management. Thank you for reading this month's issue of Volunteer Power News!