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Volunteer Power!
Volunteer Power News - Number 73
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: When Our Volunteers Quit Buying Green Bananas How to Keep the Hope Alive
  2. Monthly Leadership Tip for Volunteer Leaders: Energize and Expand Your Volunteers Base with Wet Paint
  3. Volunteer Power Workshop: Energize Your Volunteer Leaders With a Practical Workshop
Featured Article: When Our Volunteers Quit Buying Green Bananas How to Keep the Hope Alive - by Thomas W. McKee
When Our Volunteers Quit Buying Green Bananas
How to Keep the Hope Alive
By Thomas McKee

When our volunteers quit buying green bananas, they are telling us that they have lost hope. They either doubt the validity of the mission or your ability as a leader to make it happen. And people who have lost their hope and passion are cynical. Cynicism is deadly in the volunteer organization because it robs the movement of its energy, momentum and power. I believe one of the top priorities of the volunteer manager is to fight the battle of cynicism by keeping the passion and hope alive.

Tami was a part of the planning team. After she had been active for two years, she became what I call "the fragile volunteer". She began to experience things in the organization that she had not noticed before, and she didn't like what she saw. Tami became cynical, and her negative comments were infectious. Volunteers did not want to attend meetings that Tami attended, so they began to miss important meetings.

Russ, the executive director, was Tami's volunteer manager, and he made the mistake that many executive directors, volunteer managers, and ministers make. He was so focused on the mission and goals that he forgot one of his top priorities. And as a volunteer manager he must keep the passion alive in Tami and the other volunteers.

What specifically did Russ fail to do? When you are dealing with a Tami, what do you do?

The following three questions help identify what it takes to keep the passion and hope alive. Ask yourself and your volunteers these three questions to see if you have an energizing, positive volunteer culture.

Question One: Are We Having Fun Yet?

Recently my wife Susie and I were having dinner in one of our favorite restaurants on the Monterey Peninsula in California. Our waitress not only waited on us with charm, grace and professionalism, but she seemed to be having fun. Her fun was contagious, and I noticed at everyone in the restaurant appeared to be having a great time also.

When people have fun, they promote a culture that says, "Come on in and join in the excitement."

I visit a lot of volunteer non-profit organizations from environmental groups, churches, hospitals and governmental agencies. You can tell the volunteer culture when you walk into the front office. While some are alive with energy and laughter, in others you can cut tension with a knife.

In order to try and change the negative, cynical culture, start with the eleven questions of The Screaming Eleven feedback form. Hand it out to your staff and volunteers. If your volunteers' collective score is over 50, the place is alive. If your volunteer team scores under 40, you have some areas to work on. Begin working on your volunteer culture by handing out the results to your leadership team and begin to brainstorm on what you can do to change the culture.

Question Two: Have I told you lately that I love you?

Sounds like an old love song. Actually it is a love song that was recorded by artists from Hank Williams and Ricky Nelson to Ringo Starr.

Telling someone you love them doesn't sound like a phrase we use in management. It is in some companies. Ever fly Southwest Airlines? In one of the most high-stress industries, they not only make it fun, but Herb Kelleher, the former CEO and founder of Southwest Airlines, says that he wants a company that is motivated by love, not fear. They promote a culture of love. They believe in love so much that they even paint hearts on their planes, and their stock market symbol is LUV.

I'm not suggesting that we ought to go around telling all of our volunteers that we love them-although it might not be a bad idea. But we can tell our volunteers how much we care by regular affirmation for their service. The best way to keep stimulating the inner passion of each volunteer is to take the time to hand write thank you notes to let them know just how special they are. Give specifics about what you observed, such as, "Thanks so much for arriving early and setting up all of those chairs, and then taking them all down when it began to rain. I couldn't have done it without you..."

Feedback is a gift. Without feedback we don't know where we stand. Here are some ideas that work. Check out these links for ideas that work.

Question Three: How can I help you?

The effective volunteer managers keep asking their volunteers, "How can I help you?" This question is the foundation of resource management. In essence the volunteer manager is a resource manager.

What is a resource manager? Glad you asked.

A resource manager for the non-profit organization recruits and leads volunteers because volunteers are the supreme resource for the organization. But a manager also provides the best possible resources for their volunteers.

I wish you all could have met my father, who passed away almost ten years ago. He was one of the best volunteer managers I ever met. He was rather quiet and not a dynamic, enthusiastic speaker, but he was always coming along side people and working with them. When he was in his 20's, he was a Boy Scout leader. Later in life he was a minister with over 500 volunteers working alongside him--not for him. He was always asking his volunteers questions such as, "How can I help you? What do you need?"

So What? How does this keep the passion alive?

Volunteers who are having fun, feel that someone cares, and have the resources to do their volunteer job well, keep their passion. They stay motivated, and motivated volunteers buy green bananas because they have hope. They have vision. They have energy.

Monthly Leadership Tip: Energize and Expand Your Volunteer Base with Wet Paint
Energize and Expand Your Volunteer Base with Wet Paint

Expand your volunteer community with wetpaint. Whoa! What is wetpaint and who uses it?

What is wetpaint? Let's let them define it:

The Wetpaint name comes from our natural sense of curiosity--the urge to touch something when we see a "Wet paint" sign. This curiosity and the surprising results that occur from collaboration are all part of Wetpaint. For the non-profit the attraction is that a Wetpaint website is built on the influence of collaborative thinking. Their users claim that a wetpaint website mixes all the best features of wikis, blogs, forums and social networks into a rich, user-generated community based around your passion.

Who uses it?

They say that the users are "educators, passionate fans, big ol' companies, community groups and individuals that want to spread the love for whatever-it-is that rocks their socks." Wetpaint helps them connect with others who share their passion.

Want to see an example of how Wetpaint might work for you? Check out this 2 1/2 minute video. Wet paint in plain English.

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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