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Volunteer Power!
Volunteer Power News - Number 84
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: WHY? Why Should You Ask The Question, "Why?"
  2. Volunteer Power Leadership: Tom McKee coming to Arkansas
Featured Article: Why? Why Do We Have Volunteers?
"Why—Why Should You Ask The Question, "Why?"

Many of you are probably thinking, "I don't need to know why. I need to know how. I need more steady, quality volunteers. I don't need to be spending my time thinking about developing a philosophy of volunteering. I just need some more volunteers."

Most of you who are reading this e-zine are middle managers. You are a director of volunteers in a non-profit organization, an associate minister, or a volunteer yourself. You are constantly recruiting and leading volunteers, and you are the one on the front lines. In many ways this is a difficult position because you are the primary one in the organization who feels the constant need, impact and importance of volunteers. You want to empower your volunteers while the executive director or board of directors just wants volunteers to stuff envelopes or do whatever the staff cannot do. But you have a much greater vision for your volunteer program.

So you are probably asking, "Why should I read a book on the why of volunteers? Why should I waste my valuable time even asking the question, ‘Why?' Why should I read a volunteer leadership theory book?"

Most books on volunteerism are how-to books. From the Top Down: The Executive Role in Successful Volunteer Involvement by Susan Ellis is not a how-to book. This is a "why" book. It answers the question, "Why are volunteers essential?" And I don't know of another book that addresses this question better than Ellis's book. She wrote the bestseller in 1996, and just released the third edition with up-to-date material on the importance of volunteer program infrastructure, risk management, outcomes evaluation and more. I read the new edition over the weekend, and in my recommendation I want to answer two questions:

  1. Why should you read this book?
  2. What should you do with it after you read it?
Why should you read this book?

As a middle manager you need to sell the "Whys" of the volunteer program. In your organization each middle manager is passionate about their area of responsibility. If you are in a church, the music minister thinks, sleeps, and dreams about music. The children's minister . . . well, you get the picture. If you are in a typical non-profit, the development director is thinking about donations, estate planning and raising money. And when you talk about volunteers, you are often a lone voice.

The only person who sees the whole picture is the executive director, president, CEO, or head minister. Executive directors are constantly thinking vision, mission and execution of the entire organization, and they should. But so often they aren't thinking about volunteers. Read the typical executive director annual report and see how very few mention volunteers filling significant roles. Too often they don't understand the why of volunteers or even know the positive influence of volunteers and what volunteers can do for the organization.

Enter you. To increase the impact of volunteers on your organization, you need to sell them.

If your executive director or governing board would ask you to tell them why volunteers are important, what would you say? Do you have an effective, convincing two minute elevator speech on the importance of volunteers for your organization?

Susan Ellis in her first chapter says that she often asks the participants in one of her workshops to imagine the "utopia" organization in which they do not lack for resources. They have all the money that they need so that they can hire unlimited staff, offer one-on-one client service, pay for all types of consultation, and even go to the Bahamas for planning retreats. Then she asks the group to come up with as many reasons as they can why they would still need volunteers. Some of the participants answer that if they had a "utopia" organization they wouldn't use volunteers because volunteers are a pain, and they only have a volunteer program because they can't afford staff. The implied corollary, according to Ellis, is that if there were sufficient money, staff or whatever, then volunteers would not be necessary.

The chapter is insightful. Susan says that after a lively discussion, the group usually identifies some very significant answers to the question, "Why do we want volunteers?" I counted over 20 reasons that a volunteer program is vital for the non-profit. The purchase of the book is worth reading just this chapter.

Let me give one example. Ellis points out that volunteers donate on average 10 times more money than non-volunteers. She writes:

As an executive, you do have to be concerned with the funding to keep your doors open. So while I have just stressed the importance of engaging volunteers for the benefits they bring as volunteers, consider this perspective as well: A check never writes itself. All contributions of money or valuables come from peoplewho are voluntarily demonstrating their support of your cause. This implies a strong correlation between those who give time (to whom we refer as volunteers) and those who give money (to whom we refer as donors). Would your consideration of volunteers change if you were to start calling them "time donors"? Or speak of "fund raising" as "people raising"? From the Top Down: The Executive Role in Successful Volunteer Involvement by Susan J. Ellis, © 2010, Energize, Inc, page 22).

Oh, I forgot, we don't need money—we are loaded. So should I forget this one? No, in the real world we do need money.

I would recommend that you get this book, read it and develop your short and powerful presentation—ten really cool essentials that volunteers bring to your organization. I should add that the book is not all theory. Chapters on risk management, electronic communication, social networking and virtual volunteering offer practical suggestions for those working with volunteers.

Second question: What should you do with this book?

I have several suggestions:

  1. Buy it for executive directors and have them read the first chapter. Then go out to lunch and discuss the importance of the volunteer program. Hopefully they will be so motivated they will read the rest of the book.
  2. Buy it for your key support staff or volunteers and discuss how you can use the information in the organization.
  3. Give it to your board and have them read it and discuss it.
  4. Find one board member who will give you an ear and give him/her the book.
  5. Read the book and spend some time developing your own philosophy of the volunteer program.
  6. Read the book and develop your own top ten reasons you are passionate about what volunteers bring to your organization.
  7. Never give up—keep promoting the Why.

About Susan Ellis:

Susan J. Ellis is President of Energize, Inc., a training, consulting, and publishing firm that specializes in volunteerism. She founded the Philadelphia-based company in 1977 and since that time has assisted clients throughout North America, Europe, Asia, Latin America, Australasia, and Israel to create or strengthen their volunteer corps.

She was the recipient of the Association for Volunteer Administration's 1989 Harriet Naylor Distinguished Member Service Award. The BetterWorldHeroes Web site has included her on their calendar of "heroes" for December 5 (International Volunteer Day). Susan is an active volunteer in a variety of volunteerism associations and several Philadelphia-based community groups.

Leadership Feature: Tom McKee coming to Arkansas Conference on Volunteerism, Phalanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership
Many of you ask when I am going to be in your area and if you can attend a workshop. Most of my workshops are designed for a specific non-profit; however, from time to time a conference is open to the public. On April 29th, I will be delivering the key-note and facilitating a Volunteer Leadership workshop in Springdale, Arkansas. The link below has registration information.

The 35th State Conference on Volunteerism, Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership

Tom's Speaking Schedule

Last month I spent a rewarding weekend in Oskaloosa, Iowa where my son Jonathan and I did our NEW BREED training workshop together for volunteer managers in the greater Iowa area. Great people - about 75 volunteer leaders. It was so rewarding for Jonathan and me to spend a whole day helping these leaders think strategically about mobilizing the 21st Century Volunteer. The feedback from the group was exciting as they walked away with a ton of great ideas for recruiting and leading a whole new breed of volunteers.

I am passionate about leadership development for the leaders of non-profits. This week I am leading a Team Building Workshop for the leadership of San Benito County in California. Then I'll be delivering the key-note at the Arkansas State Leadership Summit and then teaching a Volunteer Leadership break-out session in April.

Here's a peek at my speaking/training schedule so far for this year. The workshops highlighted in red are open for your participation.

January 27, 2010 (San Benito County, California)
Leadership Workshop

January 26, 2010 (Elk Grove, California)
SAMN - Key-note Address for Volunteer Leaders

February 10, 2010 (Talladega, Alabama)
Volunteer Power Workshop - SBC Student Ministry Summit (Shocco Springs Conference Center)

February 25, 2010 (Spokane, Washington)
Keynote -- Washington State University 4-H Clubs

March 6, 2010 (Oskaloosa, Iowa)
Volunteer Power Workshop - Community Non-profit Leaders

March 26-28, 2010 (San Benito County, California)
Leadership Workshop

April 15, 2010 (San Benito County, California)
Leadership Workshop

April 29, 2010 (Springdale, Arkansas)
Summit 2010 -- Division of Volunteerism and Arkansas Community Foundation
Keynote and breakout Volunteer Power Workshop

May 1, 2010 (Sacramento, California)
Key note - "Unleashing the Power of the PTA with Volunteers" at the California State PTA Convention with over 3000 PTA leaders from the state.

May 8, 2010 (Chicago, Illinois)
Volunteer Power Workshop - Association of Gospel Rescue Mission Convention

June 16, 2010 (Edgemont, South Carolina)
Volunteer Power Workshop - National Wild Turkey Federation

September 11, 2010 (Dallas, Texas)
Volunteer Power Workshop - Department of Homeland Security—National Guard Auxiliary

October 1, 2010 (Columbus, Ohio)
Life Serve Conference
All-Day New Breed Workshop - GROUP Publishing Volunteer Leadership Convention for church leaders

I'm still booking summer and fall speaking/workshop dates. Feel free to contact me if you'd like to bring me out for speaking or doing any of these workshops for your group.

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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