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Volunteer Power!

Volunteer Power News — Number 49
Author: Thomas W. McKee
"Volunteer Power News" Monthly Newsletter

© 2007 Advantage Point Systems Publishing

The Illusion of Control
Do you really know why you are so successful or why your are struggling?

A winner of one of the largest lotteries in the world, The Spanish Lottery, was asked by the Spanish news media, "How did you pick the winning number?" He replied that he had searched until he found a ticket ending with the number 48. When he was asked, "Why 48?" he responded, "For seven nights in a row I dreamed of the number seven, and since seven times seven is 48 . . ."

Sound crazy? You ought to hear some of the success stories I hear from volunteer managers. They are just as wild. Volunteer managers often become victims to what is called the "illusion of control." We love to exaggerate the degree that we think we control our events. And if an event turns out badly, we rationalize.

Bottom line --

  • We exaggerate our successes.
  • We rationalize our failures.

How do you read feedback? How do you really know what is happening? This month I want to present to you two assessment forms that have been used to get meaningful feedback.

  • Self Assessment
  • The Screaming Eleven

Self Assessment

Last month I was one of the speakers at the recent BMW Auto Club Chapter Congress. The BMW Auto Club has over 75,000 members, and 150 chapter leaders gathered in Valley Forge, PA to learn how to better recruit and manage their volunteers. One of the speakers was Sue Waechter, creator and owner of Cornerstone Consulting. She had the chapter leaders fill out the following self assessment and then talk about their findings. I was impressed and asked Sue if I could pass this on to you. She gave me permission.

Download the form (PDF)


The Screaming Eleven

The second analysis is a feedback tool to be filled out by your volunteers. I developed these Screaming Eleven statements, but I encourage you to use them as an example to create your own dozen or so statements that define the volunteer culture you want. Which raises an important question:

How did I determine the eleven statements?

Easy. I asked three questions. Before you write your statements, sit down with your team and answer these questions.

  • What are my pet peeves when I am the volunteer?
  • What are our volunteers are feeling about our mission?
  • What are the important ingredients that I want in our volunteer culture?

What are my pet peeves? I hate attending volunteer meetings that are run by people who don't know how to run meetings, and I don't like working with people who don't have a high commitment to excellence; therefore, I wrote statements 6 and 9.

What are our volunteers feeling about our mission? I want to know if our volunteers are passionate about our mission, and if they feel a valued connection to our organization, so I wrote statements 1, 2, 4, 5, and 11.

What are the important ingredients that I want in our volunteer culture? I want a volunteer culture that empowers and affirms the professional expertise and commitment of excellence of each volunteer, so I wrote statements 2, 3, 4, 7, 9 and 10.

As you look over the eleven statements, you can begin to design your own and hand the form out at least once a year for a feedback.

Download the form (PDF)


Volunteer Power Key Note Presentations and Workshops

The New Volunteer
A Volunteer Power Workshop
Understanding and Equipping the 21st Century volunteers who want to do it their way
Thomas W. McKee

All or sections of the following can be presented as a full-day hands-on workshop, a half-day seminar, or a key-note presentation for your organization, association, or convention.


Who is this New Volunteer?
Seismic shifts that have changed volunteer management

  • The emergence of the knowledge workers
  • When I am 64 - the growing number of retiring boomers who are still remember the 1960's and want to change the world.
  • The Gen Yers - the growing number of single "team of one" Gen Yers (under 26) who are eager to volunteer
  • Individualism - why volunteerism is increasing in spite of Bowling Alone
  • Cyberspace - a huge untapped volunteer resource
  • The exponential increase of competition - volunteers have more options


Recruiting the New Volunteers
The Seven Deadly Sins of Recruiting Volunteers

  • Make announcements for volunteers
  • Ask for marriage on the first date
  • Go it alone-the power of networking
  • Oh, by the way-the four words that volunteers hate
  • Assume that a "no" means "never" - reframing the "No"
  • Fall into the B.I.C. trap-filling that emergency need
  • Hire staff who aren't committed to volunteer management


Part I: Motivating This New Breed of Volunteers

  • The three phases of motivation
  • Motivating by generations

Part II: Empowering Volunteers That Want to do it Their Way

  • Why delegation doesn't work
  • How to empower the new volunteer without dropping the ball
  • How to hold the new volunteer accountable

Part III: Mobilizing the Power and Passion of the Volunteer Team

  • Building a focused, volunteer team
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.