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In this issue...
July Hot Topic: Volunteers Should Not Be Second-Class Taxpayers
Choosing a Volunteer Management Conference
Online Workshops - Free? Costly?
Susan's Tip of the Month: Recruiting Volunteers Through Public Speaking
Recognition Idea
Tip of the Hat to Volunteers

Our library. . . staff wore hats all week and tipped them toward the volunteers as we saw them. In the library lobby we displayed a tree with the volunteer names and photos, where permitted, on paper hats. This was our first year of not having a party. . . The volunteers here seemed to appreciate the silent effort to recognize them.

- Submitted by Aimee H.

Share Your Recognition Idea

Volunteerism Quote
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.
 - Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

- Submitted by Sue N., Volunteer Jacksonville, Inc., FL

Share Your Quote

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Online training for you or your entire organization to work successfully with volunteers!
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Energize Volunteer Management Update
July 2008
July Hot Topic: Volunteers Should Not Be Second-Class Taxpayers
The IRS has just acknowledged the soaring cost of gas by raising the tax deduction for mileage to 58.5 cents per mile - but the rate for driving by volunteers remains at 14 cents, as it has for 10 years.  Susan examines this unfair treatment of volunteers in the US and other countries and urges a write-in campaign to make some much-needed changes.  Get involved!

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

Choosing a Volunteer Management Conference:
Think State Level

Right now in North America it's hard to find a national conference that offers quality training focused specifically on the needs of volunteer program managers. And with the cost and hassle of air travel no one wants to waste money and time. In the US, the National Conference on Volunteering and Service is geared primarily to Corporation sub-grantees, state commissions, Volunteer Centers, and Hands On affiliates. There is no replacement yet for the conference that the now-defunct Association for Volunteer Administration (AVA) used to run annually, although the embryo Association of Volunteer Resources Management hopes to fill that gap eventually. There is no real Canadian national conference but there are several excellent provincial ones and the Canadian Administrators of Volunteer Resources partners with a different one each year.

In fact, the best training in volunteer management today is happening at the state and provincial level and it's worth your while to consider attending one of the better regional conferences in North America. Start your search at the training calendar on the Energize Web site (we list events by world regions). July marks the end of the Spring conference cycle and things will pick up again in the fall.  Pay attention especially to training events sponsored by:
The associations listed here consistently sponsor events of quality, but they are by no means the only ones. The point is that everyone is welcome at any of these events, regardless of geographic location. It's simply a matter of refocusing our search for conferences to recognize that something does not have to be labeled national to be useful.

So, once again, we urge all conference planners, especially those at the state, provincial, and local levels to post the information about the conference to the Energize Web site - and to as many other places as possible. The sooner the better so that people from a distance can start planning now.

Online Workshops - Free? Costly?
It seems as if each month brings a new announcement of online training opportunities for the nonprofit community.  For the most part, these are what have come to be called "webinars," a combination of telephone conference call and visuals shown on a Web site.  The technology to present training online is improving constantly and it's worth your while to experiment with some of the options available to you.

Some programs are offered at no cost.  Go for it!  If someone is giving you free training on a subject you're interested in, there's no excuse not to make use of it.  But there are limitations to the webinar design, especially:
  • It's usually held on a set day at a particular time - if you can't attend then, you're out of luck.  Sometimes you can listen later to a tape of the program, but that means hearing any hems and haws that are natural in a live, unedited recording.
  • While it's a live presentation, because many people are joining in, most of the time will be spent listening to the presenter and only a few participants will get the chance to ask a question.
  • Most of the webinars offered are one-time events.  There is no continuity from one session to the next, nor any further discussion options.
  • There are often no handout materials.
At the opposite end of the spectrum are webinars offered at well over $100 each. The topic and speaker may be worth it to you, but the same caveats apply as above.

A completely different option is Everyone Ready, Energize's online training program. It's designed to engage you in a year-long learning community, with all resources available 24/7 at your convenience. You get 12 new topics a year, alternating in presentation through 6 online seminars and 6 self-instruction guides. An expert trainer is available to respond to e-mailed questions at all times, so you can get attention and the clarification you need. The online seminars are provided in Flash® format, giving you a professional-quality program that you can access over and over. And there are always handouts, links to additional resources, and discussion questions.  See what it's all about at www.energizeinc.com/everyoneready.

Susan's Tip of the Month: 
Recruiting Volunteers Through Public Speaking

It's easy to fill your schedules with speaking engagements. In every community there are all sorts of organizations seeking luncheon and dinner speakers - eager program committee chairs are always searching for interesting topics to offer at a monthly meeting. Your challenge is to accept or elicit only the most fruitful speaking engagements that have potential to lead you to the volunteers you want to recruit.

Do your homework! Be sure you know who will be in your audience and why you are there. Remember, you won't find African-American men at a Swedish women's club! 

There are two types of groups to which you can speak: organized groups and random or "unaffiliated" groups.

Organized groups include faith communities, civic clubs, professional societies,  and special interest groups such as horticulture clubs. All of these groups share the following characteristics:
  • They are made up of members - people who joined the group to be with peers and friends and for whom the meetings, and therefore the speakers, are simply an interesting aspect of group involvement. These organization or club members may not be looking for additional volunteering to do. Be careful that you are not just this week's nice luncheon speaker.
  • They have their own recruitment needs to find new members and to encourage current members to become more active. Your recruitment needs may, in fact, conflict with theirs.
  • They may be approached numerous times throughout the year by recruiters such as yourself and therefore have developed creative ways of saying "no" to requests for help.
  • They will respond to project ideas that serve their needs while also serving the needs of others. So if you want to get an organized group to help you, figure out how to engage them as a group (even though individual members are always free to become interested in volunteering for you as well).
Random groups can be found where a group of people are gathered, have time to listen, share some common interest that brought them together, but are "unaffiliated" with each other beyond that particular event. Examples of random groups are participants in a workshop or conference, students in a classroom, visitors at an open house, or people attending a lecture, film, or sporting event. For volunteer recruitment purposes, the "unaffiliated" group may hold more potential than the organized group because the characteristics are flipped around: 
  • Listeners are not necessarily already committed to something as a member or volunteer and therefore might be open to hearing about their opportunities to become involved.
  • If you have targeted the right event, you are speaking to people who share an interest in the topic under consideration that day. So if you speak at an animal rights conference about volunteering with the Humane Society, there is a logic to your approach.
When you've determined where you will do your presentation, ask some important logistical questions:
  • Exactly how much time will you have? Where will you fit on the agenda? What will happen before and after you speak?
  • What will the room be like? Should you expect a dark, formal auditorium? a bright, noisy lunchroom?
  • Where will you speak? Will you have a podium? be on a stage?
  • Will you have access to a microphone? To an overhead projector or slide projector (or any other audiovisual equipment you may need to bring if it is not available on site)?
  • Will there be a table on which you can display anything? Can someone help to distribute handout materials (hint:  always have something for people to take away that has your contact information on it!)?
  • Is there some place you can stay behind and meet with interested people after the meeting?
Most groups are happy to accommodate your needs as a speaker if you specify them in advance. The time it takes to discuss the questions listed above will be very well spent in your increased preparation and comfort level.

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
Please e-mail us directly if you'd like to stop receiving the Volunteer Management Update or need to change your e-mail address on file.