Volunteer Power News - Number 67
Author: Thomas W. McKee
"Volunteer Power News" Monthly Newsletter
© 2008 Advantage Point Systems Publishing
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In This Issue
Featured Article: Edgy Leadership From a Gen X Volunteer Entrepreneur - by Thomas W. McKee
Edgy Volunteer Leadership Ideas
When you turn loose Gen Y and X volunteer leaders, you might be reading to dogs or recruiting your next volunteers speed-dating style at a brewery. Are you ready for this kind of leadership? Whenever I want edgy, creative ideas on running a successful volunteer program, one of my favorite people is Christine Wallace. She is not just a creative volunteer manager. She is entrepreneurial in her approach and is constantly challenging me to stretch my thinking.
Before I share my interview with Christine, let me tell you a little bit about her. She is a young Gen X (closer to Gen Y) leader who gives great props to this generation. After graduating from college, she spent several years in Radio and T.V. reporting. Christine says that it was a job that she should have loved, but something was missing. She just wasn't fulfilled. She kept having this desire to work in the non-profit world, so she quit her reporting job and worked a couple of years in a foster care agency. When a position at the Sacramento Volunteer Center opened up, she leaped at the opportunity and has worked for the Center for the last three years as outreach director. Her job is to connect non-profits in Sacramento with volunteers, and she is very successful.
When I sat down with Christine last month, she had just returned from the Association of Volunteer Resource Management (AVRM) national conference in Binghamton, New York. That was dangerous. Usually she is full of wild ideas, but this time she was off the wall in her enthusiasm. When I asked her what "take aways" she brought home from the conference, among the things she talked about was the need for creativity. She said to me, "Find a way to be creative-a way to get it done. And then get to work. Make it happen. When we are creative, we generate other ideas, which generate more ideas."
This is part of my interview with Christine. I think you will enjoy it as much as I did.
Tom: So you came home from the conference in the mood to be creative. What creative ideas have you heard or gotten since you got home?
Christine: Oh, this is such a cool idea. I talked with Kelley from the Sacramento Food Bank who has a program for children who are struggling with learning how to read. The way they have approached it is that they have brought in dogs, and the children read to the animals. When I heard that, I said, "How cool is that!" It was about removing the embarrassment and the stigma of not knowing how to read-which is so frightening for a child who is learning how to read. They were bringing in a calming experience like being with an animal and then saying, "O.K., let's sit down and read to Rocky." Hearing that idea was so inspirational to me, I have been talking to St. John's Shelter for Women and Children about the possibility of starting a program like that at their shelter.
Tom: I think one of the most creative ideas that you shared was the "speed matching event" patterned after "speed dating". What in the world is "speed matching" volunteerism?
Christine: The idea came out of a need for professional-age volunteers. We have a lot of youth and older boomers, but are very limited in the age group of the 30's and 40's. We could not find volunteers in this age group, so several of our organizations came together to sponsor a "speed matching event". We held it at a brewery. I know that it is not the proper place to hold an event, and some even questioned it, but we said, "Hey, it's 2008, let's get over it and move on." We had it during cocktail hour and targeted the professional age people. We advertised at the Sacramento Capitol Report and the morning show, "Good Day Sacramento." We invited non-profit organizations that were looking for that age group. In two weeks we had to turn away six non-profits. We had so much interest we capped it at 15 non-profits and 45 potential volunteers. People were moving from table to table with a beer in their hand learning about non-profit organizations. People loved it.
Tom: So by the time the people got to the last presentation they were so drunk that they said yes to everything. Sounds like an interesting strategy. Were the 15 organizations happy with the results?
Christine: Absolutely. We were not looking for quantity, but quality and by quality we meant a good match. The organizations were looking for a professional who could run a program for them-an event such as a birthday wishes program for a housing facility. The only organization that did not find a match was a mentoring organization that could only use volunteers during the lunch hour on Monday and Wednesday. Professional people usually cannot make those hours. So we suggested to them that they've got to expand their opportunities.
Tom: Were there any organizations that got more than others?
Christine: Yes. You have to have an elevator speech. You have to be inspiring. You have to be motivational, and you have to suck people in. It's like the way people try to list stuff on their web sites. They actually say, "Volunteer Opportunity." And when they don't get any response, we know why. You have to emphasize the benefits, and you only have four minutes, so you have to highlight what is going to motivate the professional to be one of your volunteers. You have to make that "four-minute show" happen, and if you don't, there are 14 other organizations sitting on each side of you who are making it happen. It was interesting to see who had it together.
Tom: Since "volunteer opportunity" is not the way to say it, can you give me an example of an effective presentation?
Christine: To answer that question you have to know why people volunteer. Is it the cause (the organization's cause)? Or is it the location (located five miles from your house)? Is it community-(a relationship)? In our experience we have found out that it is the cause that attracts volunteers. People call and say, "I have an interest in this." They are passionate about animals, or children, or the environment. So what you have to do is to make your cause the best cause possible. Most people get motivated by a cause, not a program. Answer the questions about what are you doing and how can you help this cause. (Editor's note: To learn how to pitch your cause with very specific examples, click here)
Tom: I guess the reason I loved "speed matching" is because I think it is an example of our dating approach to recruiting and how we emphasize-ask for a date, not marriage recruiting method (click to see article on Permission Marketing-the dating way to recruit). It works for you because your mission is to connect non-profits with potential volunteers in Sacramento, but I could see organizations (churches, associations) run a volunteer match event to be able to pitch their various ministries and volunteer opportunities to their members. That could be fun, exciting and eventful.
Let's get to another question on a different topic. What trends do you see in your position at Sacramento Volunteer Center?
Christine: Youth and families are huge right now. I want to make sure that my volunteer opportunities are available so that I can bring the youth into the fold. The baby boomer's movement has been huge, but now the youth are rising to the same level. I think the youth are saying, "O.K., the boomers are huge, but let's pay attention to me also."
We get calls every day at the volunteer center asking, "Where can I take my five-year old to volunteer?" One year ago we would have said, "Nowhere--we don't have any organizations that can use a five year old." But, one year later we say, "The Sacramento Tree Foundation. You and your five-year old can plant a tree with your family." And it depends on the age. Sometimes with insurance it is more difficult, but there are opportunities. You can do a Christmas card creating project at the Heart Senior Center with your nine-year old and up. You can work with the Sacramento Food Bank with your twelve-year-old and up. Now there are multitude of opportunities for families and youth. One year ago there were none.
Tom: Why do you think this is a new trend?
Christine: As people are becoming more aware of communal needs, they want to instill in their children the values of how important it is to help each other. And they want to do it early instead of relying on the school system to require them to do that when their children are teenagers. They want to volunteer as a family, and they want to share with each other the importance giving back to the community. I think that families talked about it before, but they didn't actually get out and do it. Organizations like ours have made those opportunities accessible. Now they can come to our website and see the opportunities and say, "Wow-we can take Ashley and Taylor to the Sacramento tree planting on Martin Luther King Day." And they can do it as a family.
We are also seeing families volunteering with their grandparents. That was completely unheard of a few years ago for us. Personally, I volunteer with my grandmother at the Cancer Society. We only do it about once a month because she lives about three hours away. But it is a huge thing for me and for her. When I get into the Cancer Society and work with the other volunteers, I can see that that more people are volunteering with their grandparents. People are calling us and saying, "My grandfather was recently widowed, and he needs something to do. Can you recommend some place where he can volunteer?" And we say, "Absolutely, here are three organizations that are very friendly to that segment."
Tom: So what are you doing to take advantage of that trend?
Christine: We are adding that whole thing to the web site (it isn't finished yet-still under construction). We are also coming out with a youth guide that we are publishing. Our guide will be who, what, where, why, when. For example, it will have the Sacramento Food Bank, and these are the opportunities that you can volunteer for and this is the number you want to call. It is a very specific guide for the youth that will be passed out at the high schools in Sacramento. So if young people are having a hard time getting to us-then we are going to create this booklet and get it to them.
Tom: When you went to the ARVM conference, did you sense some discouragement and burn out among the volunteer managers who were attending? Sometime volunteer managers are overwhelmed from dealing with rejection, lack of retention and budget cuts. Were the volunteer managers discouraged and negative?
Christine: No, not at all because usually people who are like that don't make it to the national conference. The people that I met at the conference were creative and inspired and ready to listen to everybody else for ideas so that they could take them back to their volunteer program. When I'm at the AVRM conference, it is more about networking, and learning, and listening to people in the industry and your own colleagues and taking new ideas back and implementing them at their own program-which is huge.
I also was reminded that my colleagues are work horses. Their energy has to be able to motivate. We are not recruiting and done. We are recruiting and recruiting and retaining and retaining and creating new programs. But the working is so much fun.
We have a high-school intern, Claudia, who is working with us right now. She asked me the other day, "Do you think I could do this as a career?" And I told her, "Absolutely. It is so much more than just a career. It's fulfilling your passion through a career. How many people are stoked about their job? If you can wake up every morning happy about going to work, how cool is that?"
Tom: One more question. What do you do to charge your batteries?
Christine: The ARVM conference. DOVIA the speakers. Hear the speakers' war stories and I think, if he can do it, then I can do it. We meet once a month for lunch and have a speaker. I also get charged up when I volunteer. No one knows that I am from the volunteer center. I have a passion for animals and I love to just volunteer. When I volunteer I am just Christy, not outreach director of the Sacramento Volunteer Center.
Closing Comments About City Volunteer Centers:
I asked Christine if most cities have volunteer centers, and she told me that they do. She said that if you Google your city and volunteer opportunities you will probably find a center.
Thanks Christine for your service and tireless energy to volunteer management in our city.
Sacramento Volunteer Center web site http://www.volunteersac.org/
For information about bringing a workshop or key-note presentation with many creative ideas to your organization or city, click here.
Volunteer Power Workshop: Filled with New Ideas, Trends and Ways to Empower your Volunteer Leaders.
The New Breed of Volunteer Demands a
New Breed of Volunteer Entrepreneur
A Volunteer Power Workshop
Recruiting and managing the 21st Century volunteers who want to do it their way
SECTION I: THE NEW VOLUNTEER CULTURE
The 21st century volunteer culture is very different because of seismic shifts that have changed volunteer management. These shifts have impacted the volunteer organization; therefore how we recruit and manage the new breed of volunteer is a whole new game. The seismic shifts include the following:
The Two Leadership Factors: Guidance and Trust
Tom's Books: The New Breed and/or They Don't Play My Music Anymore
IN STOCK! CLICK HERE FOR MORE
ABOUT THIS BOOK AND TO GET A COPY
(FREE U.S. SHIPPING!)
Here's a glimpse of the Table of Contents:
Introduction: The Common Predicament
Where It All Begins
SECTION ONE: THE VOLUNTEER RECRUITER
Chapter 1: Who Is the New Breed of Volunteer?
A Profile of the 21st Century Volunteer
Chapter 2: Recruiting the New Breed of Volunteers
The "Courting" Relationship
Chapter 3: Finding the New Breed of Volunteers (Not Scaring Them Away)
The Seven Deadly Sins of Recruiting Volunteers
Chapter 4: Tapping into Two New Breeds of Volunteers
Retiring "Boomers" and "Generation @"
SECTION TWO: THE VOLUNTEER MANAGER
Chapter 5: Motivating the New Breed of Volunteers
Discover Three Levels of Motivation
Chapter 6: Empowering Volunteers to Do It Their Way
Move from Delegation to Empowerment
Chapter 7: Managing the Virtual Volunteer
Virtual Volunteers and Using Technology
Chapter 8: Managing High Maintenance Volunteers
Performance Coaching the Volunteer from Hell
SECTION THREE: THE VOLUNTEER LEADER
Chapter 9: Leading the Successful Volunteer Organization
Mobilize the Collective Power of Volunteers
Chapter 10: A Leadership Case Study
A Fable of How to Do It Right
SECTION FOUR: RESOURCES
THIS BOOK AND TO GET A COPY
Plan Your Future
When the World
Get Tom's Inspiring Book
THEY DON'T PLAY
MY MUSIC ANYMORE!
As we try to navigate the 21st Century in this increasingly fast-paced and technology-driven world, many people are drowning in our culture of unremitting change. In the innovative book, They Don't Play My Music Anymore, Thomas McKee presents a creative approach to facing personal and professional change. He offers eight essential principles that can help you gain the confidence to face an unknown future. Using these techniques, you will develop a new thinking frame by which to approach your future with hope and confidence as you learn to embrace change instead of merely reacting to it.
Tom's Eight Principles
Will Help You Gain the Confidence
To Face an Unknown Future
"In a world where change seems to be happening faster than the five miles every second the Space Shuttle travels, They Don't Play My Music Anymore offers a practical, common sense approach to not only surviving this frenetic pace of change, but building and growing from it. Incorporating Tom's methodology as I chose to make a change in my profession has helped me map out and launch into new adventures in many ways as exciting as the three space missions I flew. I very highly recommend applying these principles!"
Rick Searfoss, NASA Astronaut
and Space Shuttle Commander
Hear Tom McKee Live: Listen to an MP3 of a ten-minute sample keynote presentation by Tom McKee, The Power of Volunteer Passion
Keynote Speaker is Just
You can count on Thomas McKee for any size group. He has spoken to over one half million people in Europe, Africa and the United States over the past 35 years and has worked with some of America's top corporations, organizations and associations.(More info about Tom here)
For more articles by Thomas McKee, visit the Articles section on our website.
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