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Volunteer Power!
Volunteer Power News - Number 82
Author: Thomas W. McKee
"Volunteer Power News" Monthly Newsletter

© 2010 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: Is Volunteer A Verb, Noun or Adjective? Or Do You Avoid the Word by Using a Symbolic Substitute?
  2. Volunteer Power Leadership Idea: Facebook Pages vs. Facebook Groups—What is the difference?
Volunteer Power Feature Article: Is Volunteer a Verb, Noun or Adjective?
Is Volunteer A Verb, Noun, or Adjective?
Do You Avoid the Word by Using A Symbolic Substitute?

How do you use the word "volunteer?" Does it really make a difference? Does the context determine which syntax you choose?

We use the word volunteer primarily in two ways:

Would you volunteer (verb)?
Be a volunteer (noun).
Job titles:
Adjective: Volunteer Manager or Volunteer Director
Noun: Director of Volunteers
Symbolic Substitute: Community Resource Director

Is there a difference? Does it make a difference?

Job Titles:

I want to focus on how we use the word "volunteer" in our job titles. How do you use the word volunteer in your title?

The first decision we need to make is to whether we are even going to use the word volunteer in our job title. I wonder if some are ashamed or embarrassed to use the term volunteer. It is as if they look at volunteer as a demeaning role and try to hide the fact that their major responsibility is to recruit and manage volunteers. Look at typical job titles:
  • Southwest Area Field Supervisor
  • Community Resource Director
  • Director of Community Outreach
I often challenge church leaders to think outside the box when they assign job titles for ministry positions. Their traditional titles frequently focus on life stage rather than job.
  • Youth Minister
  • Director of Children's Ministries
  • Director of Adult Ministries
What do these people get paid to do? In large churches many of these people oversee thousands of people in their ministry. And the success of their ministry depends on their volunteers. In fact, their main job is to recruit and lead a team of volunteers. I have often suggested to churches that they rename the position, "The Director of Volunteers for Youth Ministries." I get strange looks when I suggest that. But I think it would help the youth minister understand his or her emphasis.

So, what do you get paid to do? Are your major responsibilities recruiting and managing volunteer? Then why not add that to your title?

O.K., so you get paid to manage volunteers, and you use the word volunteer in your title. Do you use the word as a noun or adjective?

Some use volunteer as an adjective to describe what they are doing. It helps define the position. This is especially true in position titles of volunteer managers. For example:

Volunteer Manager
Volunteer Director
Volunteer Administrator

Others prefer the noun form. Volunteer is the subject of the action. Volunteer is the position, not the description of the position. Susan Ellis writes:

Since volunteer is both a noun and an adjective, depending on context, it has long been understood that it is less confusing to use it as a noun in our title, as in Coordinator or Manager of Volunteers, rather than Volunteer Coordinator. The latter continually raises the question "Are you paid?" (It's another Hot Topic to consider why we react so negatively to being perceived like the people we claim to care about.) I suspect that's why our British colleagues have tried Volunteers Manager – it's short and sweet, yet avoids the implication of the first word as a modifier. On the other hand, it causes a double take – did I hear that right? Is it misspelled? (Susan Ellis, What's in a name, or Title)

Susan goes on to say that in the 1960s, Harriet Naylor fought for our profession to be recognized in the American government's Dictionary of Occupational Titles. She wanted to show that this was more than a job and deserved a career ladder. Her three ascending levels were:
  • Lowest level: Supervisor of Volunteers
  • Middle level: Coordinator of Volunteers
  • Highest level: Director of Volunteers
Let's get technical for a moment. What do these names mean? Idealist.org (project of Action Without Borders, an interactive site where people and organizations can exchange resources and ideas—www.idealist.org) notes that volunteer management encompasses a diverse range of job titles.

According to LaVerne Campbell, National Director of Volunteer Services at Volunteers of America (VOA), there are often different tasks and levels of responsibility affiliated with specific titles (What Is Volunteer Management?). For example:
  • Director or Vice President of Volunteers/Volunteer Resources is more likely to be a member of the senior management team, reporting to the CEO or Executive Director of the organization.
    • Works with senior staff and the board of directors to establish policies and planning for the overall volunteer program
    • Serves as the lead staff person on volunteer strategies, the head of the volunteer program and/or volunteer resources department
    • Responsible for supervising additional volunteer program staff.
  • Managers of Volunteer Resources/Volunteer Managers will be members of a volunteer resources department.
    • Supervises other paid or volunteer staff
    • Primarily responsible for maintaining the infrastructure of the program
    • Manages day to day operations like assessing needs, crafting volunteer position descriptions, recruiting, interviewing and screening, training, recognizing, and evaluating volunteers and programs.
  • Coordinators of Volunteers/Volunteer Coordinators will likely work under the direction of a Manager.
    • Providing support to the volunteer program
    • Overseeing such tasks as recognition activities, logistics, tracking and recordkeeping, and communications to volunteers and the public. (What Is Volunteer Management?).
If you really want to think outside the box, follow the advice of Steve McCurley, co-founder of e-volunteerism. He says, "For years I've been trying to convince people that a very subtle and fine title would be - Director of Development for Donated Human Resources. I think for volunteer involvement to succeed it must be more than just "running a program"; it ought instead be viewed as an integral part of the growth and development of the organization, just as fundraising is approached in most charities" (Response to Susan Ellis' Blog).

So What?

Is there really a difference? Do these things really matter?

I think that they do matter. I know that we are passionate about the mission of our organization. But I would hope that we are just excited about our role in mobilizing a dynamic team of volunteers. In reality, it is what we do.

Leadership Feature: Facebook Pages vs. Facebook Groups: What's the Difference?
Facebook Pages vs. Facebook Groups: What's the Difference?

Ever since we wrote about using Web 2.0 in volunteer management, I get many questions about the use of social networking sites. One of the questions has to do with the confusion over whether they should create a group or launch a Page on Facebook.

I came across this article recently that I want to pass on to you. The article is by Howard Greenstein, a Social Media Strategy and Marketing consultant, and President of the Harbrooke Group. He's also a national board member of Social Media Club.

I have outlined his main points. I recommend his complete article with specific examples on this link: Facebook Pages vs. Facebook Groups:

Basically Greenstein says that "Facebook Pages can be thought of in much the same way as normal profiles on the site – brand or celebrity Pages have the ability to have friends, they can add pictures, and they have walls that fans can post on. Pages communicate by "updates" which show on the update tab or a person's wall if they're a fan and have allowed the page to show updates.

"Groups, however, are analogous to clubs in the offline world. Administrators can invite members to join via Facebook mail and email, and public groups can be found via Facebook search."

Greenstein explains seven factors you need to consider when choosing which is right for your project, a Page or a group. He also defines and explains the significance of each factor.
  • Personal vs. Corporate
  • Email vs. Updates
  • User Control
  • Applications
  • Moderation
  • Ability to create events
  • Advertise
The bottom line

Greenstein sums up his article by saying, "Groups are great for organizing on a personal level and for smaller scale interaction around a cause. Pages are better for brands, businesses, bands, movies, or celebrities who want to interact with their fans or customers without having them connected to a personal account, and have a need to exceed Facebook's 5,000 friend cap". Facebook Pages vs. Facebook Groups

More Facebook resources from Greenstein:

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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