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Volunteer Power!
Volunteer Power News - Number 71
Author: Thomas W. McKee
"Volunteer Power News" Monthly Newsletter

© 2009 Advantage Point Systems Publishing

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

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In This Issue
  1. Featured Article: Hard Times Call for Creative Leadership
  2. Leadership Exercise for Tough Times: How to Keep the Faith When Those Around You Have Lost Their Hope
  3. Volunteer Power Workshop: Energize Your Volunteer Leaders With a Practical Workshop
Featured Article: Hard Times Call For Creative Leadership - by Thomas W. McKee
Hard Times Call for Creative Leadership

A US study conducted by The Independent Sector, a US-based not-for-profit organization, confirms that when people are worried about their personal economic situation, overall giving and volunteering drops. Their facts suggest that giving drops by more than 50% and volunteering by close to 50%. So how are we going to manage volunteers in what many are describing as difficult economic times?

That is not good news. How about some good news?

In many communities volunteerism is actually up. In the past month I have witnessed a rise in volunteerism and people coming together to take up the slack where the private and public sectors can't meet the demand for services. But the leaders of these volunteer organizations are being creative. Bottom line—Hard Times Call for Creative Leadership.

Food Closets Are Creative in Hard Times

Senior Gleaners, one of the largest food pantries in Northern California, is seeing a significant spike in volunteerism among people who recently have lost their jobs. Most charities have strict rules against allowing workers to take food home. But Senior Gleaners, which has some 1,000 volunteers and no paid staff members, offers eligible workers with low incomes up to 20 pounds of groceries per shift. That is a big bonus in hard times. Senior Gleaners has doubled its monthly volunteer orientation sessions to accommodate so many newcomers who include construction workers and truck drivers that are out of work. They note that they are having a lot more men than usual. (This is a great story—for whole story see Senior Gleaners See Spike in Volunteerism)

Creative Communities

From New England to the West Coast, many organizations have experienced a significant increase in support during difficult economic times. Matt Schooley reports in the News and Information for the Town of Hooksett that Volunteerisn thrives as needs grow. He claims that the Kiwanis Club in Hooksett, New Hampshire is currently the fastest-growing group in New England. "By the stroke of luck, we were born into good homes and good communities," said Kiwanis President Fred Bishop. "That gives us an obligation to share that with the people around the world and in our country. That is what gives me the motivation."

Currently the club has 67 members, and the club has expanded to the youth of the community, forming the Builders Club, a group that gives Cawley Middle School students the chance to get involved in volunteering. "I think it's very personally rewarding because you get a great feeling knowing you've helped establish young people serving the community," said Bishop. "To see the interest, you assume kids are more interested in sports, texting on cell phones and playing video games – then you see these kids really involved." (See complete article)

Last week I was invited to attend a city of Sacramento meeting at the local Boys and Girls club where Mayor Kevin Johnson launched "Volunteer Sacramento," a yearlong campaign to recruit Sacramentans to teach, clean up the environment and work with needy Sacramentans of all ages. It was an energizing meeting with over 200 community leaders representing many of the local non-profits. Johnson challenged us to enlist every person in Sacramento city to volunteer 10 hours of public service for the city in the next year, which would amount to about $7 to $8 million of time we're going to give back to this community.

Mayor Johnson said he learned volunteerism from his grandfather, a sheet-metal worker who would stop to help drivers whose cars had flat tires or ran out of gas. Two days before Christmas one year, Johnson remembers his grandfather dragging him out of bed in the middle of the night, driving from Oak Park to the projects at Broadway and 5th Street, and telling him to ring a family's doorbell and give them $20, "which seemed like $200 back then." "A lady opened the door and I handed her the $20 and she starts crying," he said. It wasn't until a few days later that Johnson learned the mother of eight had had all her kids' Christmas presents stolen. "It's not about what you say, it's about what you do," Johnson said.

Churches are forced to get back to what ministry is all about

Two weeks ago I addressed a group of ministers, and although they served churches in size from about 100 to over 5,000 members, they all had one thing in common—giving was down and many of them had to make significant staff cuts. There was a sense of heaviness in the room as those kinds of decisions are hard when you have to let people go who are part of your parish family.

But most of them agreed that in the past years of prosperity their churches had a tendency to "hire" new staff rather than recruit volunteers. Youth pastors were the worst offenders in that many of them just kept hiring youth interns to run their youth program rather than recruiting volunteers. These pastors were being forced to back to basics of church ministry by recruiting and equipping the church members to do the work of the church rather than hiring it done.

In essence what the group was telling me is that the challenge is a wake-up call to get back to what churches are supposed to be doing.

The Creative Job Search while out of Work

But creativity is not limited to organizations. Richard Bolles, the renowned career-hunt specialist, speaker and author of the best-selling book What Color Is Your Parachute? (Job-Hunting in Hard Times), claims that one of the best things you can do when you are out of work is volunteer, or in his words, "go out and help people who are worse off than you are. Volunteer at a food bank; it'll make you feel 1,000 percent better. Or volunteer at a place where you'd like to work. If there's an architectural firm you really like, call and ask: 'I've got this background and experience. I have time to volunteer. … Can you use me for free 10 hours a week?'" (Source: Claudia Buck: 'Parachute' author sees possibilities in bad job market, March 1, 2009, the Sacramento Bee).

Creative Volunteering during an Economic Downturn

How do you become creative? How do you look at the brutal facts of the economy and give hope? The following exercise is one that I have used with groups and the results have been amazing. I encourage you to try it with your volunteer leaders, staff or board.

Leadership Exercise for Your Staff: How to Handle Tough, Discouraging Times
The Stockdale Paradox Exercise

I have used this exercise with great success. The exercise is a discussion and application of a short story, The Stockdale Paradox, from Jim Collin's book, Good to Great. The story is about Admiral Jim Stockdale, who was the highest ranking United States military officer in the "Hanoi Hilton" prisoner-of-war camp during the height of the Vietnam War. Tortured over 20 times during his eight-year imprisonment from 1965 to 1973, Stockdale lived out the war without any prisoner's rights, no set release date, and no certainty as to whether he would even survive to see his family again. But Admiral Stockdale had hope. His hope was not a blind optimism that claimed he would be home by a certain date. He found hope in the midst of the brutal facts of his terrible circumstances of not knowing what the future would bring.

I hand out the article to each person and ask them to find a quiet place to read. As they read, I tell them to let Admiral Stockdale's words, which I have written on a flip chart, frame their thinking, "You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be."

As they read, I ask them to think about these two questions:

  1. What are the brutal facts—our current reality—that we are facing?
  2. What can we do confront these brutal facts?
I give them 30 minutes to sit in a quiet place (I have done this at my home when the weather is nice and people can sit in the back yard) to read the article and write their responses to the questions.

After 30 minutes we assemble together, and we spend an hour listing the brutal facts. This is an important time for people to vent. We need that. We need to listen to people share their fears, pain, and anxiety. But after about an hour, we begin to talk about hope. I ask each person to share their ideas. If the group is small, around six people, we all stay together for this part. If it is larger—over 15 or 20, I often break into groups of about six and have each group report their findings to the larger group.

Try this. It can be powerful and effective.

For the article, link to Jim Collin's web site.

Volunteer Power Workshop: Learn How to Be a Volunteer Leader—Not a Volunteer Manager
The New Breed of Volunteer Demands a
New Breed of Volunteer Entrepreneur

A Volunteer Power Workshop
Thomas McKee

Recruiting and managing the 21st Century volunteers who want to do it their way

Workshop Content

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:
  • Generations – Gen Y and retiring boomers-the new frontier of volunteers
  • Technology – The addition of the virtual volunteer to the face-to-face volunteer.
  • Empowerment – The knowledge worker demands to be led- not managed
The Two Leadership Factors: Guidance and Trust
  • Guidance – How much hands-on direction do I give?
  • Trust – How much confidence do I have that I can depend on the volunteer?
The Volunteer Power Management Strategy
  • Stage I – Awaken the Passion – The Pre-Volunteer – (Low Trust-Low Guidance)
    • The three levels of motivation
    • The deadly sins of recruiting volunteers
    • The dating process of recruiting
    • The "big idea" method of presenting your passion

  • Stage II – Channel the Passion -- The Passionate Beginner (Low Trust – High Guidance)
    • Communicate expectations five ways
    • Train

  • Stage III – Manage the Passion -- The Talented but often Fragile Veteran (High Trust, High Guidance)
    • Affirm the passionate who are the core of your volunteer team (recognize and reward)
    • Awaken the passion of the veteran volunteer
      • Reframe
      • Refresh
      • Re-assign
      • Re-train
      • Or – if all else fails--Retire

  • Stage IV – Empower the Passion -- The Empowered Volunteer (High Trust, Low Guidance)
    • Delegation vs. empowerment
    • How to empower the volunteer without dropping the ball

Tom's Books: The New Breed and/or They Don't Play My Music Anymore
The New Breed


Here's a glimpse of the Table of Contents:

Introduction: The Common Predicament
Where It All Begins

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 @"

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

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

  • Sample Position Charter
  • Sample Project Charter
  • Interview Guide for Hiring a Paid "Volunteer Manager"
  • Sample Questionnaire for Virtual Volunteers
  • Sample Board Code of Conduct
  • Strategic Planning Retreat - Agenda of Questions
  • SWOT Analysis Form
  • Ice-Breakers and Openers
  • Team Building Activities
  • Sample Training Exercise-A Case Study:


Plan Your Future
When the World
Keeps Changing

Get Tom's Inspiring Book

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
Thomas McKee
Who Takes the Fall When Your
Keynote Speaker is Just

You Do!

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)


Click here to listen

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@volunteerpower.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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