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In this issue...
May Hot Topic: It's Volunteers and Money
Free Web Talk Show May 6th on Voluntourism
Introduce Yourself in Atlanta
Susan's Tip of the Month:"How Finding New Members is Related to Recruiting New Volunteers"
Recognition Idea
We have a volunteer who has been with us for quite a while. Looking back over her hours, I noticed she had worked over 1000 hours. My coworker thought it would be a neat idea to collect pennies - one to represent each hour she had worked. We presented them to our volunteer in a clear flower vase. . .

It was a very inexpensive way to show how much we appreciate what she has done. It also helped present the number of hours she has dedicated in a tangible way.

- Submitted by Jessica B., Austin Convention & Visitor's Bureau

Volunteerism Quote
I have an almost complete disregard of precedent, and a faith in the possibility of something better. It irritates me to be told how things have always been done. I defy the tyranny of precedent. I go for anything new that might improve the past.

- Clara Barton

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Energize Volunteer Management Update
May 2008
May Hot Topic: It's Volunteers and  Money
Is your volunteer program appropriately funded?  Have you requested something not in your usual budget and been told "we don't have the money"? But that just means no money right now.  Every organization, whether nonprofit or government, plans ahead for raising and spending funds for anything it wants to do.  How can you effectively make the case for allocating more money to support volunteers?

Read this Month's Hot Topic
Remember you can listen to the Hot Topic as a podcast, too!

Free Web Talk Show May 6th on Voluntourism
A trend growing in worldwide popularity is combining vacationing and volunteering.  The premier Web site advocating thoughtful development of this concept is VolunTourism.org.  Founder David Clemmons hosts a weekly, live talk show online, The VolunTourist (past programs are also archived on the site).  On Tuesday, May 6th, the guest is Energize's Susan Ellis, who will talk with David about how volunteer management strategies apply to this new type of service.  The one-hour show starts at 10 a.m. Eastern Time - scheduled to be available to people in many international time zones.  Susan and David will explain the three  different types of voluntourists.  Listen in.

Introduce Yourself in Atlanta
If you're attending the 2008 National Conference on Volunteering and Service in Atlanta on June 1-3, please take a moment to visit the Energize, Inc. Exhibit Booth.  It's a great opportunity for us to meet many of our colleagues in person and we love getting your feedback about our Web site, our publications, and our services.

The exhibit also gives you a chance to ask questions about the Everyone Ready program.  Feeling lucky?  We'll be running a drawing for one FREE enrollment in Everyone Ready! (A US$500 value!) Drop your business card or contact information into the box for the chance to experience our new year-long online volunteer management training program! 

As always, we'll have a bookstore area where you'll find print editions of many volunteer management books. Plan on taking a few resources home and avoid shipping costs you'd have to pay otherwise. 

Susan's Tip of the Month: 
How Finding New Members is Related to Recruiting New Volunteers

Are you a leader of an all-volunteer association?  Maybe a professional society, friends group or auxiliary, faith community, fraternal order, or service club?  If so, it's a good bet that you are always seeking new members. 

The problem, though, is that it's not enough to swell the membership rolls.  What you really want to find are new people to give time and energy to your organization's projects - in other words, you need volunteers.  If your approach is to speak only of the benefits of membership in your group, never assume that someone who joins as a member intends to volunteer!

These days, most new volunteers are looking for short-term assignments or projects.  They may subsequently be willing to do more, but they are cautious about falling into a bottomless pit of service obligation.  So beware the word "join"!  It implies a minimum of a year's commitment, if only in paying dues.  It focuses on affiliation and group identity, before the newcomer really can know if s/he will want to remain part of your circle.

So instead of looking for new members, attract people to a project your group is doing.  Get them interested in your cause and eager to help accomplish something.  This means going beyond "whom do we know?"  Do the same sort of targeted recruiting that an agency-based program would do and find completely new folks who share an interest in your activities.

Of course you can explain that they are invited to become a full member, but do not make that a requirement to do some useful work with you on the project at hand.  That way, even if someone chooses not to join for the long haul, you at least gained some help for a time.  But more often than not, participation in the project becomes a two-way get acquainted opportunity that leads to greater involvement in a natural way.

Conversely, perhaps you should stop recruiting new people and concentrate instead on activating those already on the membership rolls.  What percentage of your members come out to work on a project?  Are willing to run for office or serve on a committee?  If it's a low number, start with internal recruitment.  A few tips:
  • Be specific in your call for volunteer help.  Don't assume members understand what a project or role is all about, especially if they haven't been active recently.  Explain it and give details about when, where, how, and how long.
  • Get your board to telephone inactive members randomly for a quick check-in chat. (Why not?  You're all in this together.)  It's a great chance to ask why each person is disengaged.  Maybe you'll identify some areas for improvement.  However, make the calls armed with a list of things to be done and intentionally ask the member to one of them.  Never forget that the number 1 reason people volunteer is because they were asked.
  • At dues renewal time (and with the initial application for membership) ask more information than how to contact the member!  Ask things like profession, or languages spoken, or special interests they might be willing to share.  Then keep a record of the replies somewhere and see if you can match your volunteer needs with what you know about each member.  This is another way to issue a clear, personal invitation to volunteer.
Finally, keep asking!  Some members are simply not able to give more time at certain stages of their lives and just want to remain dues-payers.  But when their personal life changes, they may feel uncertain about how to revitalize their participation.  So don't write anyone off, even if you haven't seen them for a while.

About us
Energize empowers and inspires leaders of volunteers worldwide.  Our specialty is creating and selecting the most relevant, innovative resources in volunteer management.  We're advocates for the power of volunteers and for the recognition of the leaders who unleash it.

Energize, Inc.
5450 Wissahickon Ave. C-13
Philadelphia PA 19144
Phone: 215-438-8342
Fax: 215-438-0434