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Volunteer Power!

Volunteer Power News — Number 32
Author: Thomas W. McKee
"Volunteer Power News" Monthly Newsletter

© 2005 Advantage Point Systems Publishing

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

In this Issue:

1. An apology
2. The Virtual Organization
3. Gen Y: Team of one???
4. When you are tempted to quit.

An apology

I am sorry that I skipped the month of November. Thank you for all of you who e-mailed me that you missed the newsletter. I have been traveling too much lately.

One of the questions I received recently was about the virtual organization. And it is not just the Gen Y that is responding to on-line volunteering. On January 1st, the Baby Boomers turn 60. As they retire, they will be traveling, working part time, traveling, and volunteering. The virtual organization is a must.

The Virtual Organization

Virtual volunteering means volunteer tasks completed, in whole or in part, via the Internet and a home or work computer. It's also known as online volunteering, cyber service, online mentoring, teletutoring and various other names. Virtual volunteering allows agencies to expand the benefits of their volunteer programs by allowing more volunteers to participate and by utilizing volunteers in new areas.

In researching the virtual organization, I came across an excellent resource that I highly recommend. Rather than just re-invent the wheel, you can find out anything you want to know about virtual volunteering at ServiceLeader.org. Some of the information they offer is the following:

  • Developing and Implementing a Virtual Volunteering Program
  • Establishing a Virtual Volunteering Program
  • Examples of Virtual Volunteering
  • Making E-Mail Communications More Effective
  • Safety in Online Volunteering Programs
  • The Virtual Volunteering Guidebook

Team of One or Team Player

In the last newsletter, I developed eight strategies for recruiting the Yers who are . . .

  1. Impatient
  2. Adaptable
  3. Multitaskers
  4. Street smart
  5. Crave respect
  6. Want to be heard
  7. Not judgmental
  8. Looking for causes

Today I want to look at the last two characteristics of the Gen Ys:

9. They are team players.
10. They are loners-the team of one.

How can both of these be true? The Army recruits "an army of one". Has it worked? Are Gen Yers a team of one or team players?

The Army has used these recruiting slogans since becoming an all-volunteer force:

  • "Today's Army wants to join you" - 1973.
  • "Join the people who've joined the Army" - 1973-1976.
  • "This is the Army" - 1977-1979.
  • "Be all you can be" - 1981-2001.
  • "An Army of one"- 2001-present

America's Army and the recruiting campaign is not an isolated effort, but part of a much larger overhaul of recruiting strategy. After the Army missed its quotas by over 6,000 enlistees in 1999, private-sector specialists were brought in to form the Army Marketing Brand Group. Leo Burnett, a top advertising agency that has also worked with McDonald's and Coca-Cola, developed the Army advertising campaign that made its debut in January 2001. In an attempt to appeal to the new recruit-the Gen Yers, the two-decades-old "Be All You Can Be" slogan was dropped in favor of "An Army of One," which make the questionable assertion that the Army is a place where individualism flourishes.

A single soldier marches in the opposite direction of a group of soldiers and says, "Even though there are 1,445,690 soldiers just like me, I am my own force. The might of the U.S. Army doesn't lie in numbers. It lies in me. I am an army of one." This ad constituted a part of the Army's 2000 campaign intended to attract more young recruits. The U.S. economy had dented Armed forces recruiting in the late 90's, and in 1999, the Army narrowly reached its goal of 80,000 enlistees. A consulting firm examined the Army's recruiting strategy and concluded today's generation of young people is more focused on individual accomplishment.

"When they say 'army of one,' we're just saying every individual has certain strengths that they contribute to the team just like in a baseball or basketball team," said Major Thomas Palladino, an ROTC professor. "So when they bring their special qualities to the team they make the team stronger."

The Marines are also promoting individualism in their "Power of One" ads. In the Marine ad "The Few, The Proud, The Marines," a single, young muscular man morphs into what looks like a dungeons and dragons video game where he slays a techno-dragon. But last summer the Pentagon officials reported that for the first time in 10 years, the Marines had missed its recruiting goals for the last four months.

Maybe all of this individualism has not worked. As of December 7, 2005, The US Army changed its ad agency. Many feel that the Army will ditch its "Army of One" theme since it is not meeting its recruitment goals. The Army missed its fiscal 2005 recruiting target of 80,000 recruits by nearly 7,000.

So what does this mean for volunteer recruiters of Gen Y when we don't have a $3.5 million budget to hire an ad agency? I believe we can use the following tactics to recruit Gen Y volunteers:

  1. Recruit Gen Ys to be on a team. The Army is the epitome of a team when it's properly run and managed. The "Army of One" marketing campaign seemed to fly in the face of how young men and women are raised today in public schools and community athletics. "An Army of One," is not encouraged or fostered. Kids play on teams, and they all seem to get a plaque or trophy whether they win or not.
  2. Recruit Gen Y's to a very specific, unique job. Gen Ys are team players, but they want to be a significant part of the team. Each volunteer is unique, and they want a job that makes them feel that their talents and contributions are making a difference. Individualism is important, if that individualism is recognized as part of a dynamic, winning team. Last Sunday in our church the pastor introduced a 13 year old young man who was learning to run the PowerPoint display. The volunteer was actually the adult man who was becoming a big brother to this young man from a single parent home, but the young man was also a volunteer on the tech-team.
  3. Recognize Gen Ys for the individual role they play on the team. Gen Y's, are individuals. Although they want team recognition, they also want individual recognition that their role is important and significant. When you recognize the team, also recognize each individual player and their specific contribution to the team.
  4. Don't be discouraged. In the late 90's a flourishing economy kept young recruits from joining the armed services. This year many feel that the recruiting target is down because of Iraq and Afghanistan. Even with all of the government's millions, they are having a hard time. Maybe our recruiting obstacles are not as difficult after all.

When You Are Tempted to Quit

I want to thank all of you who write and encourage me in this absolutely free, volunteer service that I provide for all volunteer leaders. This month when I got way behind, I was tempted to give up (like many of your volunteers are during the holiday season), but your encouragement kept me going, and this newsletter came out-even if it was late. We are all tempted to quit now and then. Try to focus on the people who are helped because of what you do. Hang in there.

Don't forget to thank your volunteers for their service this year.

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 www.volunteerpower.com.

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

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!