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Volunteer Power!
Volunteer Power News - Number 72
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: The Exponential Power of Volunteers—What We Learned From Our Last Presidential Election
  2. Monthly Leadership Tip for Volunteer Leaders: Getting to Yes—How to Get the Pre-Volunteer To Say Yes
  3. Volunteer Power Workshop: Energize Your Volunteer Leaders With a Practical Workshop
Featured Article: The Exponential Power of Volunteers - by Thomas W. McKee
The Exponential Power of Volunteers
What We Learned From Our Last Presidential Election
By Thomas McKee

Volunteerism isn't just getting free labor. Volunteerism is power. And the leader who is able to mobilize a team of volunteers is able to lead a movement. What does it take to generate volunteer power?

In this edition of Volunteer Power, I want to highlight something that we witnessed last year—the power of a volunteer organization that crossed generational, gender, ethnic and social economic barriers. Whatever your political views, the Triple O—Obama's On-Line Organization—was powerful.

The 2008 Presidential Election - An Example of Volunteer Power

I never really understood just how Obama's on-Line organization worked until I read the March 2009 issue of Fast Company. The magazine listed the top 50 of the world's most innovative companies of 2008. These companies ranged from politics to technology, energy and transportation; from marketing to retail, health care, and design. Fast Company Magazine claimed that "These are the kind of enterprises that will redefine our future and point the way to a better tomorrow."

The list of the top 50 included familiar companies such as Google (#2) Apple (#4) Intel (#6), Cisco Systems (#7), and Amazon (#9), G.E. (#11) and Facebook (#15). But the #1 organization was Obama's On-line Organization.

Barack Obama's presidential-campaign team relied on technology -- what was known internally as the "triple O," or Obama's online operation -- to connect with voters better, faster, and more cheaply than ever before. The team has become the envy of marketers both in and out of politics for proving, among other things, just how effective digital initiatives can be. "We never felt like, 'This is our community,'" says Chris Hughes, the campaign's director of online organizing. "This is the community of all the people who empowered it." The community that elected Obama raised more money, held more events, made more phone calls, shared more videos, and offered more policy suggestions than any in history. It also delivered more votes. And it continues to act: In mid-December, house parties were held in 2,000 cities and towns to discuss how to carry on; 86% of those surveyed said they plan to provide grassroots support to Obama's legislation (source: Fast Company, The Fast Company 50—2009).

Fast Company outlined the following time line of events and how the campaign reacted. The numbers and quick response to situations are amazing—something we have never seen before.

  • February 2007 - Obama officially declared his candidacy
    He launched MyBarackObama.com - a social networking site with 2 million profiles and 35,000 volunteer groups that planned 200,000 offline events.

  • May 2007 - Campaign takes over a grassroots Obama fan page on MySpace with 100,000 followers. Eventually grows to over 3.2 million supporters

  • June 2007 - YouTube video of "I got a crush on ... Obama" posted by Obama Girl—ends up with 12 million views. YouTube churns out 1,800 videos by Election Day, with 110 million viewers.

  • July 2008 - Liberal supporters launch an uprising on MyBarackObama.com in opposition to Obama's Senate vote on wiretapping. Obama writes a long blog post explaining.

  • Sept 2008 - Obama responds to Palin's nomination raising $10 million on line in 24 hours. On line donations total over $500 million, the vast bulk in increments of $100 or less

  • November 4- Election day
    Every battle ground state voter signed up for alerts on Obama's site gets at least three text messages.

The Obama organization reminds us of the power of Web 2.0 , which is a must for the 21st Century volunteer leaders. WIKIs, RSS, Blogs and Virtual teams are a way to keep people energized.

Monthly Leadership Tip: Getting to Yes - A Recruiter's Tip
Leadership Tip: How to Get the Pre-Volunteer to Say Yes

Question one: What does it take get the volunteer's we need?

Answer: Make sure that they know that their investment of time and expertise is of value to you and your mission.

Question two: How do we do that?

Answer: Just ask them. When we ask a person to volunteer, we have just told them that we value their time, their investment and their expertise.

The Independent Sector Research reported that people don't volunteer because they aren't asked. Their report is insightful.

By asking someone to volunteer, you are reaching out to them and involving them in the community. People who are asked to volunteer do so at a much higher rate than if they were not asked. Only 38 percent of seniors were asked to volunteer in the past year. While 48 percent of persons age 55 to 64 were asked at one point or another in the past year to volunteer, less than one-third of all seniors over 65 years of age were asked to volunteer.

The difference in the rate of volunteer participation is very apparent when one compares those who are asked versus those who are not asked. Seniors were approximately four times more likely to volunteer if they were asked. Even people over 75 years of age volunteer at a high rate when asked. Almost 68 percent of seniors over 75 years of age volunteered when asked, compared to only 18 percent when they were not asked.

Our First Sin of recruiting is, "Don't expect announcements to get volunteers." We say, "Ask." The simple truth is that people who are asked to volunteer do so at much higher rates than those who are not asked. When we ask someone to be a part of a volunteer project, we give worth and value to that person. How cool is that?

Check out the following ideas for helpful hints on how to ask:

Volunteer Power Workshop: Reenergize Your Volunteer Leaders with a Volunteer Power Workshop.
The New Breed of Volunteer
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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