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Volunteer Power!
Volunteer Power News - Number 77
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: Increasing the Life Cycle of A Volunteer
  2. How About Some Good News: Volunteering Today
  3. Volunteer Power Specials: Special Savings for a Volunteer Power Keynote or Workshop.
Featured Article: Increasing the Volunteer Life Cycle
Increasing the Volunteer Life Cycle
Is it Possible in the 21st Century?
By Thomas W. McKee

"Can you tell me the average life cycle of a volunteer?" That is a question I received last week from one of our new subscribers. I had to stop and think about that. At first I had many reactions to the question, but then I began to wonder what was behind her inquiry. I called her to find out.

Kelly is a new volunteer manager (two weeks on the job). She just graduated from seminary and has a position in a large church in charge of recruiting and managing volunteers for her area of ministry. Although Kelly is eager about her new role, she has these concerns.
  • Am I going to ask volunteers to do too much?
  • Am I in danger of burning out volunteers?
  • What is reasonable to ask?
  • What is the current life cycle of a volunteer?
These are good questions, and Kelly is asking them because she wants to have realistic expectations.

The following is an edited response that I sent to Kelly. For those of you who are new to Volunteer Power, I have linked previous articles giving some "how-to suggestions" for some of the proposals.

Response to Kelly

Your question has intrigued me and the answer is very complex because of many issues. Here are a few:

  • The 21st century volunteer seems to have a short attention span (influence of media and life's distractions).
  • Volunteerism is a hot trend right now, and people are fulfilling their desire to volunteer with short-term "day of service" projects such as Martin Luther King Day, Random Acts of Kindness Week, Join Hands Day, Be the Change Day, Make a Difference Day, and National Family Volunteer Day.
  • We all are time deprived. The 21st century demands that we live at a faster pace, and we are forced to cram more and more things into our datebook with less time.
  • People volunteer because of their stage in life. Their kids are playing soccer, they are retired and travel a lot, or perhaps they are fulfilling a volunteer requirement in order to graduate from school.
Even though these influences will shorten the life-cycle of the new breed of volunteer, we can increase the length of service of volunteers if we follow certain practices. Too often volunteer managers think tactically (short term) and are frantically trying to fill ten slots for a program or event. The directors of volunteers who are carefully following a strategic volunteer recruitment and retention plan are increasing the level of commitment. It is a challenge, but it can be done.

The Volunteer Power method of strategic volunteer leadership includes four essential stages. When volunteer managers plan carefully, they can increase the long-term commitment from the 21st century volunteer. As you read the four stages, you notice a recurring word—passion. The bottom line is that volunteer leadership is "passion management." Passion is great—but it can be fickle. Volunteer managers must first awaken the passion for their mission (stage one), channel that passion for a very specific role (stage two), sustain the passion--the momentum (stage three), and finally empower the passion (stage four).
  • Stage I – Awaken the Passion -- Recruitment
    • Market your mission and vision in a way to excite people to volunteer for your mission.
    • The goal is to promote your cause (mission) and get people to have a taste of what you are doing to fulfill their passion to get involved and make a difference.
    • Give people a taste of your mission.
    • Think strategically about the big three: marketing, branding, and recruiting.

  • Stage II – Channel that Passion -- The Passionate Beginner
    • Capitalize on the fact that new volunteers are excited.
    • Develop a top-notch training program for your volunteers.
    • Communicate expectations and don't be afraid of asking for high commitment.
    • Give lots of feedback.
    • Avoid the four words that volunteers hate: Oh, By the Way.

  • Stage III – Sustain the Passion --The Talented (and fragile) Veteran
    • Be aware that this is the stage when we lose people. Many veterans get burned out.
    • Give tons of feedback. Write lots of notes (personal cards), recognize and reward your volunteers.
    • Give your volunteers a listening ear.
    • Keep asking the volunteer, "How can I help you?" Make sure that they have the resources that they need.

  • Stage IV – Empower the Passion -- The Empowered Volunteer

Kelly responded to the above with this note:


This is great, thanks so much!... I've been asked to propose a completely new assimilation plan for our volunteers and future volunteers and after reading this, I think I'm going base it on these four stages, focusing on the greatest needs of the volunteer at each stage. So this was extremely helpful.

The more I get into this position the more I'm learning that my job is largely serving our Volunteer Leads, as opposed to the volunteers themselves, so they can in turn serve their volunteers well. I'm finding that not all of them have necessarily caught the vision of sharing ministry and multiplying themselves, or that good leadership is involving others even if it's not convenient or our paces/effectiveness slow down a bit at first...

Thanks again Tom, I'm just thrilled about this position and our contact.


How About Some Good News: Volunteerism Today
As you read this newsletter, I am in Keystone, Colorado, at the CAHAV (Colorado Association of Healthcare Auxilians and Volunteers) delivering a keynote for their annual convention. To prepare for a keynote or workshop, I always spend significant time with members of a non-profit organization discovering their challenges and concerns about volunteer management. Before I left, I interviewed two hospital directors, a doctor who manages a non-profit clinic, and one young high school senior hospital volunteer who wants to become a nurse. The message I heard was overwhelming and exciting. I came away energized that the above strategic system of volunteer leadership works from all participants (volunteer directors, doctors, and front line volunteers). I also came away with this message:

  • This year more people are volunteering. Some managers have more volunteers than they know what to do with (result of the economy).
  • Volunteers are essential for the success of the organization—especially in this economy.
  • Volunteers are excited about the opportunities to learn and give back.
  • Volunteers don't just want to make a contribution—they want to make a difference.
  • More professionals are volunteering. The doctor I visited with told me that he has dentists, pediatricians, and general practitioners volunteering more than ever.
  • The millennial generation is volunteering (ages 16-28). Although many of them are fulfilling requirements, countless others are also interested in gaining medical experience while in pre-med studies.
So What

I walked away from my interviews thrilled. We who are in volunteer management are standing in a significant place in history. As I visited with the young high school student, she told me about an older (my age—ugh!) volunteer who was working with and mentoring her. I thought of how the volunteer teams and professional staff of the hospital are impacting the lives of our younger generation as they have an enthusiastic, optimistic hope for our future. I also saw how volunteers are impacting society.

Bottom line—Volunteers of all generations are working side by side as they step up to the challenge of our hurting economy.

Volunteer Power Workshop: Reenergize Your Volunteer Leaders with a Half-Day, Full-Day or Two-Day 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

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

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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