Volunteer Power News Number 27
Author: Thomas W. McKee
"Volunteer Power News" Monthly Newsletter
© 2005 Advantage Point Systems Publishing
A warm welcome to all volunteer managersthose of you who recruit, motivate and mobilize volunteer workers.
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If you haven't received the Volunteer Power newsletter last month, it is my fault. In the midst of a crazy travel and speaking schedule, we moved from last week and set up a new office. I didn't get the newsletter out for about 8 weeks and with this one I'll get back on track.
Case Study: Calvin and Hobbs - the staff resistance problem
One of the major issues in volunteer management is getting the staff excited about working with volunteers. I just finished a workshop last week with city employees who are asked to recruit, motivate and manage volunteers. I had a wonderful time with these folks who appreciate the many hours of labor, vision and passion that volunteers bring to the city workforce.
I used this case study and I share it with you. Copy it and hand it out to your staff. Use the discussion questions at the end to bring up some of the issue your staff might be having with the question of volunteer/staff relationships.
of Staff Resistance
Calvin is a manager in the Collinsville city library. He just came back from a meeting of librarians and is pumped about how many libraries are using volunteers to staff many of the library positions. Calvin had attended a volunteer power workshop and as part of that workshop he visited a city library in the city of the seminar and was taken back by the volunteer room. The volunteers had their own room for processing books. The room was filled with about fifteen volunteers working on the many books, videos, CDs and even laser discs that had been donated to the library. In visiting with one of the volunteers, he found out that over 300 people were volunteering for the library, and the money they saved on staff enabled the city library to increase their hours for the public.
When Calvin arrived back to work, he assigned one of the library employees, Hobbs, the job of developing the volunteer program. Hobbs was livid. His feeling was, "I'm already six weeks behind and now you want me to recruit, motivate and manage a bunch of volunteers who won't show up half the time. You've got to be kidding. And I wanted to start an after school program for kids."
Calvin told Hobbs that if they didn't get some volunteers for the library, the library funds would be cut even more. Volunteers were a way to offer more services to the public. Calvin took on some of Hobbs' responsibilities and assigned Hobbs the new task.
Hobbs gave it his best try
and in six months brought Calvin a request for resources to accomplish their
tasks. Volunteers are asking for the following resources to accomplish their
Calvin told Hobbs to give them what they wanted. The volunteers were having an impact, so make it work. Hobbs agreed that the volunteers had brought in a lot of enthusiasm to the library, but he just was frustrated. Every week one of his ten volunteers didn't show up. He muttered as he went back to his desk, "Why can't we just get the city to put more money in the library so I can hire staff to handle these jobs?"
This newsletter is the fifth in our "Cool Stuff that you never heard before" follow up. - Retention. The order you selected as the most important are:
One: Motivation -- How to keep my volunteers
motivated so that they keep their commitments
NOTE: For those of
you who have missed the previous newsletters, you can catch up on the "cool
This Issue: Retention
Before we address the subject of retention ask yourself what your retention rate is. If it is 91% or over, you are doing well. A 9% loss of volunteer should include all volunteers who retire, finish a term of office (and do not continue in some volunteer capacity, or have an emergency). This is normal attrition. When you are losing more than 9% then something is wrong and people are quitting because of the volunteer program.
The number one reason people quit is leadership. It hopefully isn't you, but one of your volunteer leaders. The 21st century volunteer doesn't want to waste time working on a committee that is facilitated by someone who is late, does follow through or is just incompetent.
The second reason people quit is that they don't feel that what they are doing is making a difference. People don't want to make a contribution, they want to make a difference.
To reverse the quitting trend, we need to address these two problems. The first problem is very difficult and the second one is easy. Let's tackle the hard one first.
What do you do with a wonderful person who has been with the organization for many years, is very faithful and committed to your organization, but has turned off so many new volunteers because of their lack of ability to lead a meeting or organize an event-and they love to do both of those things.
I have several suggestions-and I've tried them all.
There is a very simple, very inexpensive way to retain volunteers. It is not in prizes and awards. It is in one word. Feedback. Well, I know, this is not really new. It is really very old, but probably the most important.
newsletter: Managing-how to juggle the multiple projects of volunteer management.
Thomas W. McKee
Tom McKee is a leading
volunteer management speaker, trainer and consultant. You can reach Tom
at (916) 987-0359 or e-mail him at email@example.com.
Other articles and free resources are available at www.volunteerpower.com.
For more articles by Thomas McKee, visit the Articles section on our website.
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