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Volunteer Power!
Volunteer Power News - Number 95
Author: Thomas W. McKee
"Volunteer Power News" Monthly Newsletter

2011 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: Speed A Tectonic Shift That Is Changing Volunteerism
  2. Check this Out: Welcome to the Age of the New Normal
Featured Article: Speed A Tectonic Shift That Is Changing Volunteerism
How fast are you responding to change?

How quickly do you respond to a shift in culture? Are you even aware of the changes in culture? How quickly do you make decisions? How long does it take for you to respond to your volunteers' requests? These are huge questions because one of the most significant tectonic shifts that have changed volunteerism in the first ten years of the 21st century is "speed."

Around 80 United States Coast Guard (USCG) Auxiliary leaders from the Southeast gathered in February to learn how to recruit and lead the New Breed of Volunteer. They expressed their desire to reach a younger generation of volunteers since most of their leaders were retired men (in their 60's and 70's). They weren't defensive, but they were genuinely concerned and wanted answers. I was well prepared and had planned on offering many suggestions, but something spontaneous happened that day that was far beyond my expectations for the day.

At the beginning of the session, I noticed a young man enter the room. He seemed out of place in this group of older leaders, so I introduced myself to him and learned that he was a college student from Auburn University who had joined the Coast Guard Auxiliary. As we visited I was so impressed that I asked if I could interview him and pick on him during the session so that we could make of fun of his generation. He was not only up for the challenge, but was bright, articulate, and seemed to get it. About 30 minutes into my presentation, I walked over to where he was sitting and began the interview. I asked him why he joined the Auxiliary, and why he was taking the time to attend this leadership conference. He gave an eloquent two-minute presentation about the benefits of the Auxiliary and how he wanted to be an officer in the Coast Guard when he graduated from college. He concluded that joining the Auxiliary was a step to reach his goals. This goal-driven, impressive young man had his audience in the palm of his hand. The first rule of great speaking is to know your audience-he knew his audience.

Then I asked him the loaded question, "Since your fellow members are concerned that they are not having much success recruiting and retaining younger members, what can they do to reach your generation?" He let them have it. These were his words (in all honesty, I didn't record his speech-I wish I had-- but these were his bullet points that I jotted down).

  • Y'all (he had a great southern drawl) take forever to make a decision. We want to act quickly.
  • Y'all have endless meetings to discuss what could be decided in a few minutes.
  • Y'all think it takes us as long as it took you to learn high-tech. We learn it fast and can multi-task while y'all are trying to turn your computers on (ouch-that hurt).
  • Y'all just want to give us orders, but we want to know why. There is a reason they call us the "Y- generation." We need to know the why.
  • Y'all love boats. We do also, and we are concerned about the safety of the waterways. But we don't want to wait until we are 50 or 60 to be able to pilot a boat. In fact, most of us have been in boats and around boats since we were in preschool. We are ready to go.
  • Y'all resist change. We love change and are ready to change to make it happen. Y'all seem to be afraid of change.
Then he gave a telling example. He said,

Let me give y 'all an example of how long it takes to get something done in the Auxiliary. See this uniform that I am wearing? Do y 'all know how long it took me to get it? In our organization, I couldn't find anyone who could tell me how to get the uniform, where I should get it, and how much it cost. We are used to ITunes, Amazon and Netflix. We are used to getting what we need immediately, not waiting for months or even weeks get our resources. When I suggested to some of y 'all how we could use technology to speed up the process, I was told, "We just don't do things that way." My question is, "Why?"

What happened next was something that I couldn't have scripted. The members of the Auxiliary did not become defensive at all. They were engaged, and I spent the next hour facilitating a meeting of Q and A. And they were not just asking me questions, but many of the questions were directed to this young man. The exchange was exciting, and they began to brainstorm how they could make the changes they need to recruit and involve a younger generation in the USCG Auxiliary.

I walked away from that session asking myself, how fast am I responding to a changing culture?

What Lady Gaga can teach us about speed-She is doing in 10 minutes what it took Madonna ten years to achieve.

Nick Shore, Senior Vice President of Strategic Consumer Insights and Research at MTV, is responsible for all of MTV's research efforts across MTV, MTV2, mtv.com, mtvU, and MTV Tr3s platforms. He blogs:

If we had to identify someone who is the face of the (millennial) Generation, the way that Bob Dylan perhaps was for the Boomers or Kurt Cobaine for Xers, then today that face would be Lady Gaga's. Considered beyond doubt the "most interesting person today" by the generation the core characteristic of Gaga is the speed (emphasis mine) and ferocity of her self-reinvention. She is doing in 10 minutes what it took Madonna ten years to achieve. (I recommend reading his blog entitled: Are You M Ready?)

Marc Prensky coined the term, "Twitch Speed." He says that this generation thinks and operates at higher speeds than previous generations. They grew up on video games, MTV (more than 100 images a minute) and quick-cut action films. If you want to see what Marc is talking about, watch five minutes of the newest CSI, and then watch a rerun of Magnum P.I. You'll be surprised at how slow the show Magnum has become in its old age. (The New Breed, Thomas and Jonathan McKee, p. 59)

It is not age-it is about losing control

But speed is not just for the young. We all have become addicted to "twitch speed." A few months ago I was invited to dinner by a couple of "movers and shakers" of an organization. They wanted to meet with me before I led a workshop the next day. They had some concerns about how their organization was missing a great opportunity of involving the new breed of volunteers. But it is the age of these men that is significant to this story. One man was in his 60s and the other in his early 70s. The man in his 60s had developed a software company and had marketed it around the world. The man in his 70s had used Twitter and Facebook to mobilize thousands of volunteers to respond to a crisis. These two men knew how to get it done. But their frustration was that the infrastructure in their organization was so layered with bureaucracy and so called "safe guards" that they couldn't use their skills and talents as volunteers. Both said to me, "If we ran our business like this organization, we would be out of business in a month." As I listened to these men ask me what they could do as volunteers to change the culture, I understood. Too many organizations are afraid of this new breed of volunteers who want to get it done--quickly. In fact, I believe that they are not afraid of the young-they are afraid of losing control.

So What? What can we do about a fast changing culture?

Glad you asked. I have several suggestions to help you keep aware of the culture.

  • Follow the example of what the US Coast Guard Auxiliary did. Ask the younger members of your organization what you need to do to reach a young, why-asking, fast generation. Listen to them and then brainstorm.
  • Don't limit your questions to the young. Keep asking yourself the question, "What infrastructure keeps us from empowering our volunteers?" Ask your volunteers this question. Ask your board this question. Ask your leadership this question, and as you listen to the answer, change what you can.
  • Keep current. I also walked away from that meeting with a renewed vision and challenge to help you keep current. The mission of Volunteer Power is to help you mobilize the power and passion of a whole new breed of volunteers. And one way to help you is to keep you aware of trends that affect your leadership with fast moving volunteers. We try to do the research for you to keep you up to date on not only the latest trends, but also what to do about them.
We are covering topics such as partnerships, slacktivism, crowdsourcing, microvolunteerism, busyness, and leading teenage volunteers. We also review and recommend the most current books on volunteerism such as Leading the Way to Successful Volunteer Involvement. And most of all I want to suggest specific ways that you can use these changes to recruit and retain the new breed of volunteer.

All of the information is available for you to copy and hand out at a staff meeting for discussion. Our hope is that it will provide discussion points for your leadership to brainstorm. Just don't take forever to do it.

Check This Out: Welcome to the Age of the New Normal
A couple of years ago I met of Larry Checco while sharing the stage at a volunteer leaders conference. Larry is owner of Checco Communications (www.checcocomm.net) and sends out a e-zine, Branding Bytes. In January he sent out the following article, and he gave me permission to reprint it. I thought you would enjoy it as I did.

Welcome to the Age of the New Normal

As an excuse not to change or do something differently, how often have you heard someone in your organization say, "Well... this is the way we've always done it!"

Well... this is no time to be an ideologue, or in other words, to be stuck in your old habits and ways.

Partly due to the Great Recession, partly due to rapid advances in technology and in part due to changes in our cultural norms we have entered into what I refer to as the Age of the New Normal. And this New Normal is affecting every facet of how organizations conduct their businesses, from raising funds to using new technologies to workplace issues.

To stay current and viable as an organization in this Age of the New Normal, here are just a few of the questions that need answers:

How dependent are we on government funding?
For decades, countless nonprofits have relied largely or exclusively on local, state and federal funding, or a combination of all three, to achieve their missions. If yours is one of them, and you haven't already experienced a decrease in your funding, brace yourself. Given the state of most government budgets, it's just a matter of time.

The Age of the New Normal demands that you start seeking alternate sources of funding. Despite these hard economic times, there is money to tap into. Which leads us to the next question....

Do we still believe that marketing and branding would make us look too much like the for-profit sector?
If so, get over it.

A lot of the available non-government money that's out there is in the hands of people who made their fortunes in the private sector. Many are seeking to support good causes. But only organizations that can effectively and clearly make their case by successfully explaining to these potential funders who they are, what they do, how they do it-and most important, why it matters-will be on the receiving end.

In other words, marketing and branding should be integral parts of your business strategy.

Are we still trying to raise money under the rubric of being a "charity that makes a difference"?
If so, you've got a tough row to hoe.

Under the New Normal, funders are seeking ever greater accountability, transparency, responsibility-- and demonstrated outcomes.

To simply say you make a difference will no longer cut the mustard. You need to show how you make that difference. And the more data you have to support your claims, the better.

Which leads us to...

How well do we collect and leverage our data?
A lot of nonprofits don't even bother to collect data, and those that do often don't use it in a way to help promote their organization's narrative or story.

The New Normal says it's not enough to tell prospective funders how many people walked through your doors last year. The New Normal wants to know, among other things, how your services improved the lives of these people, what are these people doing now and what impact does your work have on the community, at large.

How well do our employees work together?
The Age of the New Normal also forces us to address the different work styles of aging Boomers versus young Millennials, or those born between 1978 and the early 1990s.

If you want to get the most out of your workforce, your organization needs to learn the differences between these two generations and how to leverage their respective strengths through training, setting clear goals and expectations, providing meaningful feedback, creating a flexible work environment and rewarding employees for their efforts.

This isn't always easy. For example, where boomers prefer more "face time" and personal encounters in the workplace, Millennials are perfectly happy to communicate via email and other techno-based virtual methods, and want more flexibility to work from home.

For Boomers to tell Millennials that ,"But this is the way we've always done it" isn't going to make for a healthy workplace environment.

Are we getting the most out of our volunteers?
Similar to issues revolving around Boomers versus Millennials, we've entered a New Normal for volunteerism, as well.

Study's have shown that the majority of today's volunteers, regardless of whether they are young or old, are seeking meaningful volunteer experiences that take greater advantage of their skills, give them more responsibility and provide greater flexibility with respect to when they can volunteer.

Many are seeking more on-line volunteer opportunities. Some want to volunteer as a family unit, while still others say that they want the organization's to whom they give their time to get to know them better, especially, when it comes to being more sensitive to sex, culture, language and age differences.

What about our use of technology?
Yikes! Given the pace of technological change, the Age of the New Normal is a rapidly moving target.

When I purchased my first fax machine in the mid 1980s, I thought it tolled the end of history as I had known it. Who could have foreseen the changes that were-and still are-to come.

Suffice it to say that at the very minimum, your organization should have a website that's easy to navigate, is updated regularly, and allows people to donate to your organization online.

If you haven't already, you should be looking into how best to use new social media, such as FaceBook, Twitter and LinkedIn as potential fundraising tools, yes, but more importantly to help build a community knowledgeable about and loyal to your organization.

And here's a final thought: If a Millennial comes to you with an idea about technology, or anything else for that matter, do not respond by saying, "But that's not the way we've done it in the past."

Yes, listening is part of the New Normal, as well.

NOTE: My thanks to GuideStar who published the above piece in the January 6, 2011, edition of its monthly e-newsletter that goes out to more than 300,000 nonprofits, nationwide.

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

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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