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Volunteer Power!
Volunteer Power News - Number 75
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 Tension of Using the Unemployed as Volunteers for Short-Term Projects. Is It Worth the Effort?
  2. Volunteer Power Specials: Special Savings for a Volunteer Power Keynote or Workshop.
Featured Article: The Tension of Using the Employed as Volunteers
The Tension of Using the Unemployed as
Volunteers for Short-Term Projects
Is it worth the effort?
Thomas McKee

Volunteer managers who are finding projects for all of the unemployed have an unusual problem. They have too many volunteers and not enough projects, money and/or leadership to manage them. And all of these volunteers only want a short-term task. Is it worth our time and effort? If you don't think short-term projects are controversial, just read Susan Ellis's blog and the many responses she got when she says, "It's easy to see why single 'days of service' have become popular. Organizing short bursts of volunteer energy can be useful, but this trend has proliferated to the point of absurdity, with ever-shorter time commitments." Days, Hours and Minutes of Service. Enough is Enough. Believe me, her blog is worth reading, and especially the response from bloggers(even though Ellis's emphasis is on special 'days of service,' the reaction she got from volunteer leaders about organizing short-term projects is enlightening).

So what can we do? On one hand, the media and executive search companies are encouraging the unemployed to volunteer while searching for a job. 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?'" (Newsletter #71). Many of today's unemployed are turning to volunteer work to make a difference in their communities, to network and even to find a job.

But on the other hand, organizations are claiming that this is a new burden that they have never had to deal with before—they are being so flooded with volunteers that they have waiting lists. How long has it been since you have had a waiting list for volunteers? "The irony is that sometimes it's almost more work to find something for a volunteer to do than to just turn them away," says the United Way's VP. Many small non-profits do not have a paid staff volunteer coordinator, or have had to cut back in the face of lighter donations. "Can you make them stop calling?" asked a nonprofit executive, who noted that "everybody's inspired by Obama," who has urged public service. (Newser: Volunteer Boom Becoming a Burden)

The tension is that we have more volunteers, but we don't have the funds to support the volunteers because we all know that volunteers aren't free. It costs money to run a volunteer program. What do we do to turn this gloom into a boom for our organization, the unemployed and our economy?

Glad you asked. Here are five suggestions that can help you meet some of your volunteer needs, expand your future volunteer base, and develop relationships with potential donors while giving the unemployed the opportunity to use their professional skills.

  1. Think like an HR Manager

  2. Get together with your leadership team and brainstorm about projects you have always wanted to develop but never had the time. Think professionally. How many times have you wanted to expand your website to web 2.0, but just have not had the money, expertise or personnel? Today there are unemployed professionals who know how. Begin blogs, RSS and WIKI's. Ask yourself questions such as, "Can I use Twitter to increase our communication? How?" Consider Dress for Success, a nonprofit based in New York that provides professional clothing to low-income women looking for jobs. Nancy Lublin, the founder, said that one volunteer with technical expertise wound up designing a Web site for the organization. Another volunteer turned out to be a marathoner, and she organized a 5K run with several clients that Ms. Lublin said helped to bolster their self-esteem. It pays for nonprofit leaders to be able to think like human resources managers, said Ms. Lublin, who is now the chief executive of Do Something, a volunteer clearinghouse for teenagers. "When someone comes in with a job title from a bank, a lot of nonprofits just see that person as a wallet with legs. That's really short-sighted," she said. "Besides, right now those wallets are empty." (New York TimesUnder New Management--Can Volunteers be a Lifeline for Non Profits)

  3. Recruit a volunteer project manager to run the short-term program.

  4. One of the most important decisions you make is who is going to run your short-term volunteer projects for the unemployed. Begin to look for people in your network of professionals for an unemployed project manager who could take up this short-term project. When you recruit this person, outline the three essentials of project management: scope, budget and schedule. And turn them loose. Set up a weekly meeting to ask these key follow up questions: How is it doing? How can I help you? What do you need?

  5. Get the message out to the community

  6. When I opened my water bill last month I saw a brightly colored flyer from the "Friends of the Library" in the small community where I live. The flyer, written by a volunteer, was promoting the book sale to support our library and the committee was asking for volunteers to help donate books and/or work at the book sale. And guess what. My wife and I volunteered to help, and we spent a morning unpacking boxes of books for the book sale. Why? The flyer touched our passion for books and the need for a library expansion in our neighborhood.

    When you have identified your short-term projects, get out the word. Use your website to communicate what is happening to build enthusiasm for your members. But also expand your communication to the community with press releases, special interest stories in the news, and maybe even something creative like a local water bill.

  7. Use this opportunity as a "first date" to introduce people to your passion.

  8. Too often volunteer managers are only looking for full-time, long committed volunteers. We neglect the short-term volunteer because we know that next month we need to find a whole new group of short-termers. Even though many will never show up again, some will. Glenice Jones, Volunteer Program Coordinator, in Blaine, MN, says, "Most of our volunteer positions are long-term (98%), so I have felt unable to participate in the one-day of service opportunities, until last January. On the Tuesday after MLK day, I offered two opportunities to come and learn about what a typical 'day' of volunteering is like in an Adult Basic Education setting. This response was good and we were able to recruit about half of those attending. I felt the effort was worthwhile and would certainly do it again, plus it made our organization a part of the "day of service" event." (Source: Energize blog). I loved Glenice's response to the short-term project. She understands the principle of asking for a date rather than marriage when it comes to recruiting volunteers.

  9. Offer a skill-building opportunities for your volunteer

  10. Twenty five years ago we were in recession. It was nothing like the current recession, but many people were losing their jobs, and things were tight. We used that opportunity in our office (a non-profit) for people to up-date their job skills. Word processing was new, so we purchased a very elaborate, state of the art IBM System 36 (you can tell this is an old story) for our office with ten work stations. We then offered hi-tech training for people who would commit to four-hours a week for one year to work in our office. The benefits were huge. The office volunteers updated their skills, and we were able to run our office with one full-time office manager and 25 volunteers. And when jobs started opening up, we were able to write recommendations for those workers. We could have hired one or two of those volunteers full-time, but instead we choose to train 25 people who were able to get great jobs with their updated skills.

So what: A Personal Story from an unemployed volunteer—Me

Have you ever been unemployed? I have. It is scary. I'll never forget the day I was fired. They called it "downsizing." Trying to find work is not easy when so many others are looking for a few jobs. I'll never forget the Friday night I was given my last check from my employer. It was a Halloween night and my wife was working on the East coast, so I had the task of answering the door for our neighborhood kids—hundreds of them. I was trying to be positive and think about what I could be doing, but after about ten-minutes of answering the door, I became overwhelmed. I'm a pretty positive person and I'm not one to be depressed, but that night I felt full of anxiety. So I came up with a solution. I turned out all the lights, locked the doors, went to the back bedroom, turned on the T.V. and ate all the Halloween candy—all those little Snicker bars. You can't eat just one.

The next day I went for a long walk by the American River, where I live. I sat down on a park bench and began to map my future (I was 50 at the time). Out of that experience I wrote my book, "They Don't Play My Music Anymore" on how to manage life's transitions and began my change management training business.

But volunteering became a huge part of my transition. I joined local groups such as the California Society of Association Executives and volunteered to serve on committees in addition to spending time volunteering in my church. Those relationships helped me get through what some call the "valley of despair."

I share this with you, because those of us in volunteer management are in the business of caring. That is what our organizations do. Given the state of our economy and number of people out of work, I believe that non-profits need to take a good look at our operations by tapping the pool of highly skilled workers who are unemployed. There are scores of engineers, teachers, builders, plumbers, carpenters, electricians, flight attendants, salespeople, designers, financial planners, consultants, and project managers who are out there waiting by their phones, reading Craig's List, and wasting away updating their Facebook page. While finding a job is going to be their top priority, I believe that unemployed professionals would jump at the chance to help volunteer if you are open to helping them. Let's make it part of our mission during these tough times.

Special Savings for A Volunteer Power Key Note or Workshop
Looking for a keynote for your annual convention, or a motivational session for your volunteer leaders, or a workshop to help your volunteer leaders recruit and keep their volunteers? Many of the private sector organizations that have sponsored our presentations for conventions are not able to sponsor these events during these hard times. I know many of you are feeling these cuts.

I would love to help. I will work with your organization to make our fees affordable for you by trying to arrange engagements in the same area to cut travel costs.

If you are interested, send me the contact form with your budget, and I'll see what I can do.

Tom McKee
Volunteer Power

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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