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Volunteer Power!
Volunteer Power News - Number 86
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: Crowdsourcing and Micro Volunteering: A New Breed of Volunteer Power
  2. Volunteer Power Leadership: Keeping the Passion alive. A short 10-minute YouTube clip by Tom McKee from his PTA keynote presentation last month.
Featured Article: Micro Volunteering and Crowdsourcing
If you aren't already overwhelmed by change, non-profits seem to keep inventing new terms to make sure you are. I remember sitting in a meeting only three years ago and the speaker asked, "How many of you are using web 2.0.?" Only about 15 people out of over 100 raised their hands. Then she told those of us who had not raised our hands that e-mail was out, Web 2.0 was in, and we needed to get with it.

Web 2.0 was a whole new term for me. Since that time I have tried to keep up with terms like wikis, blogs, mashups, and folksonomies. It can be overwhelming-especially when I tend to be a late adopter.

Two new terms, "crowdsourcing" and "micro-volunteering," are so popular that The National Conference on Volunteerng and Service in New York this month is offering workshops on both topics. In fact, the workshop on crowdsourcing is already full. That tells me that non-profits are interested in this stuff. Even if I don't jump on the band wagon immediately, I can at least know what they are.

Crowdsourcing is the process of mobilizing millions of people into a powerful movement by using the internet. Micro-volunteering is the concept of having volunteers use little snippets of time to help your organization out without the hassle of traditional volunteering.

I want to ask two questions about each of these two terms:
  1. What are they?
  2. Who is actually using them-successfully?
And then in conclusion I want to ask, "So what? Is it exciting, overwhelming, or just a way to make people feel good for doing so little?"


What is crowdsourcing?

Crowdsourcing is the broader of the two terms. In the last few years crowdsourcing has morphed into an inclusive term that has been used to describe everything from Wikipedia to the recent SMS donations to Haiti.

A simplified definition of crowdsourcing is to expand a task of one and open it to a large group of people. Non-profits have been doing that for years. They have relied on crowds of volunteers to get the job done. When you really think about it, crowdsourcing is the essence of volunteering. However, the internet has pushed crowdsourcing to a whole new level that is far beyond our wildest imagination.

O.K., let's get technical for a moment. Jeff Howe coined this popular term. Crowdsourcing means creating short online activities that huge groups of people can do from their own computers in a short-period of time. He says, "Remember outsourcing? Sending jobs to India and China is so 2003. The new pool of cheap labor: everyday people using their spare cycles to create content, solve problems, even do corporate R & D" (The Rise of Crowdsourcing -wired.com).

The most popular example of crowdsourcing is Wikipedia. Wikipedia defines itself as the following:

Wikipedia is a free web-based, collaborative, multilingual encyclopedia project supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. Its 15 million articles (over 3.3 million in English) have been written collaboratively by volunteers around the world, and almost all of its articles can be edited by anyone with access to the site. Wikipedia was launched in 2001 by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger and is currently the largest and most popular general reference work on the Internet. . . . Wikipedia doesn't have a single paid employee responsible for content (writing, editing or any of the sort.). Wikipedia is more than 10X as big as the New York Times, which has 1,200 of them. In the German version of Wikipedia, editors give each other 'gummy bears' for good spelling.

How are non-profits using the power of crowdsourcing?

Mark Horoszowski of Wellsphere reports that Creative Crowdsourcing Empowers Non-Profits to Spread the Word. He says that "that creative crowdsourcing can be used to source anything from graphic design and copy, to television ads and radio spots. More than just a cost reduction for non-profits, creative crowdsourcing brings organizations the power of choice and the ability for its constituents to become involved."

Mark gives the following example from NAFCU, the National Association of Federal Credit Unions.

NAFCU came to GeniusRocket, our DC based creative agency powered by crowdsourcing, to source television advertisements to promote credit unions in local markets around the country. As with most non-profits, NAFCU was working on a small budget. Approaching a traditional agency would have cost them anywhere from tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Through GeniusRocket, NAFCU was able to offer a $3,000 award to a community of up and coming artists who were willing to take the risk by creating content for the competition. Across a 30-day period, NAFCU received over 20 videos produced by over 20 artists across the globe. NAFCU selected three videos from the crowd and returned in subsequent months to source two more specifically themes ads. You can check out the video here. David Frankil the President of NAFCU Services was, "overwhelmed by large volume of very high quality ads received, which the credit unions were happy to use." (Creative Crowdsourcing Empowers Non-Profits to Spread the Word.)

Another example of crowdsourcing is the election process. Volunteers have always been important to the success of a political candidate's campaign. The 21st century "going door to door" has been expanded by crowdsourcing, and it has changed political elections.

During our last presidential election, Obama's campaign leaders knew the power of crowdsourcing.

Barack Obama's presidential-campaign team relied on technology -- what was known internally as the "triple O," or Obama's online operation -- to connect with voters better, faster, and more cheaply than ever before. The team has become the envy of marketers both in and out of politics for proving, among other things, just how effective digital initiatives can be. "We never felt like, 'This is our community,'" says Chris Hughes, the campaign's director of online organizing. "This is the community of all the people who empowered it." The community that elected Obama raised more money, held more events, made more phone calls, shared more videos, and offered more policy suggestions than any in history. It also delivered more votes (Fast Company, The Fast Company 50-2009).

To see read a report on the power of crowdsourcing, see my article, The Exponential Power of Volunteers- What We Learned From Our Last Presidential Election.

If you are interested in how the web is impacting elections, The Tech President is a web site dedicated to covering how political campaigns--presidential, congressional and state--are using the web, as well as how voters are using the web to affect those campaigns. To read more about this growing phenomenon and other examples, I recommend reading Ben Rigby's description in his article, Information Age Volunteerism - Open Sourced! Crowdsourced!

As is often the case, one type of innovation leads to another. Seeing the potential from crowdsourcing, the founders of The Extraordinaries, Jacob Colker and Ben Rigley, came up with the idea of using the iPhone as a method of crowdsourcing and developed their brand of Micro-volunteering.


What is Micro-Volunteering?

Micro-volunteering is another way to take advantage of the volunteering trend in which people are reluctant to volunteer for extended periods of time. Micro-volunteering takes this tendency to a new level by offering people the chance to feel good by using their iPhones to do something good while they are using down time (i.e. waiting time-the bus, an appointment, a line at the bank). Micro-volunteering is being championed by The Extraordinaries, who offers micro-volunteer opportunities to mobile phones and is developing applications that will coordinate volunteer efforts so that volunteers can make a difference with a click.

But, Jacob Colker, Co-Founder of The Extraordinaries, is passionate about capturing the power of spare time to benefit non-profits. He says:

"Micro time is best reached through mobile, because 90% of us have a phone within reach, 24 hours a day. However, we will also have a web widget for when you are sitting at your desk at work and have a few minutes free. So, yes, we are the mobile guys right now. But moving forward we'll also be on any platform that allows us to reach people with a few minutes free -- mobile, web widget, or any future technology. Essentially, people spend 9 billion hours playing solitaire each year, and we want to tap into that same energy for social good" ("Micro-Volunteering via Mobile Phones" - Non-profits.about.com/volunteers).

How is Micro-Volunteering Being Used by Non-Profits?

The potential is awesome. For example, the Extraordinaries created a Haiti support page to harness the power of the crowd to help locate and identify missing persons with just a few minutes of their time. When Beth Kanter made her list of several iPhone Apps for Nonprofits list, she made these comments about the inventory.

The list was small. It included one of my favorites, The Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Guide to help you make, "sustainable seafood choices." Another iPhone application is Give Work, a collaborative effort by CrowdFlower, a professional crowdsourcing service provider, and Samasource, a non-profit organization that trains youths and refugees to use computers, and by extension to find sustainable employment. The application creates an opportunity for Kenyan refugees by matching iPhone users' volunteer work with that of the refugees, who do the same tasks and are paid double.

Beth also included on her list CauseWorld that uses a new form of "embedded" giving that she dubbed "Foot Traffic Philanthropy." Last January in her blog, (Foot Traffic Philanthropy: Expect To See More Mobile Do Good Apps in 2010), Beth says that over the Christmas holidays she had a lot of fun playing with the iPhone app, CauseWorld, and she was able to support the following causes:

  • Offset eight pounds of carbon through contributions to the CarbonFund.org
  • Help teachers purchase items for five classrooms located in schools with few resources
  • Provide donations for Prevent Child Abuse America to reduce the number of abused children
  • Help CHF International give clean water to four people in Sudan for a month
  • Provide meals for hungry people through Feeding America
  • Help stop animal abuse by supporting the American Humane Society
  • Get books to children in developing countries through Room To Read
  • Feed chimps through Jane Goodall Institute
  • Plant Trees through America Forests
I've just tried to outline a brief summary of crowdsourcing. If you are interested in a more in depth study of iPhone apps (and for that matter how to use the internet for social change), I recommend reading the work of Heather Mansfield at the Nonprofit Tech 2.0. Heather claims that Causeworld and Extraordinaries are two of three iPhone apps that every non-profit should know about. The third app is called "Charity Finder" that lets users donate to non-profits via simple interface (Heather Mansfield: Three iPhone Apps That Every Nonprofit Needs to Know About.) I would add to that list MobileActive and Ushahidi.

So What? What is my reaction to all of this?

Is it exciting, overwhelming, or just a way to make people feel good for doing so little?

First, as I travel around I always listen to what volunteer leaders are doing and am energized at the innovation and 21st century tools that many of you are using to recruit and empower volunteers. It is exciting out there.

Second, I believe that we need to keep stretching ourselves and asking the question, "How can we use technology and these volunteering trends to raise the level of volunteerism?" Micro volunteering and crowdsourcing are other 21st century methods to add to the list of terms we have written about:

  • Slacktivism
  • Episodic volunteering
  • Web 2.0
But, don't be overwhelmed. These may not work in your organization right now, but these ideas may spur your thinking into other creative strategies. And the time may come when you're ready to incorporate these tools.

Third, thank you for all you are doing in keep sharp. You are making an impact. If I can help you, let me know. Contact VolunteerPower.

Leadership Feature: Volunteer Power on YouTube
Last month I delivered the keynote presentation to the California PTA. Over 3,000 volunteers gathered for their annual state convention, and I had the opportunity to challenge those leaders to "Unleash the Power of the PTA with Volunteers".

The following link is a 10 minute YouTube video clip from that presentation. The video picks up the keynote at the second of five leadership strategies that I presented. Click on the following link to listen to:

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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