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In this issue...
February Hot Topic: "An Open Letter to President Obama"

Charitable Mileage Deduction Once Again Up for Vote

Join a Free Conference Call to Learn About Everyone Ready

Valentine's Day Gifts for Colleagues

Susan's Tip of the Month: "The Importance of Self-Esteem"
Recognition Idea
Volunteer Valentines

Here's a quick and inexpensive, but "heartfelt," idea for Valentine's Day.

Attach a foil-wrapped chocolate heart to a kiddie Valentine. Include a message like "You really put your heart into your work" or "Our heartfelt thanks for doing a great job."

Share Your Recognition Idea

Volunteerism Quote
 I always wondered why somebody didn't do something about that. Then I realized I was somebody.
- Lily Tomlin

Share Your Quote

e-volunteerism logo

Everyone Ready logo
Energize Volunteer Management Update
February 2009
a1February Hot Topic: "A New Era of Responsibility":  An Open Letter to President Obama

It is already clear that US President Barack Obama is going to be an advocate of volunteering as part of what he has termed "a new era of responsibility." So this is a unique moment in which the profession of volunteer management can make itself visible. This "Open Letter" presents concrete requests and asks you to add your perspectives as well.  Susan's approach to Obama is:

... [W]e have heard such rhetoric before but I genuinely believe that your Administration will be different and add tangible resources to the lip service. Your hallmark is seeking solid information and educated opinions to develop your strategy, so this open letter is intended to give you input on the subject from professionals who work in the field of volunteer engagement and understand its complexities. Here is what we believe your Administration can do to strengthen volunteering in the United States. 

Note that Energize has sent a printed copy of the Hot Topic, along with a gift of By the People:  A History of Americans as Volunteers, to the White House.

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

a2 Charitable Mileage Deduction Once Again up for Vote

After six months without action, the effort to raise the US income tax deduction amount for charitable driving from its long-time level of 14 cents per mile to the business rate (currently 58.5 cents) is once again in the news. The legislation from last year went nowhere, but suddenly the mileage deduction for volunteers is part of the new "Stimulus Package" in Congress right now and the Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations (PANO) is once again keeping everyone informed. See Susan's July Hot Topic on this subject and the full legislative history on the PANO Web site. The 1/29/2009 press release concludes: 

Our official position is in support of raising the volunteer mileage rate to 100% of the standard business rate.  In 2008 we supported Platts' H.R.2020 and Senator Casey's The Charitable Mileage Deduction Equity Act, S.3421. Platts' new bill H.R.345 is virtually identical to them.  But if Grassley's proposal shifting discretion to the IRS is included in the Stimulus Package, then it is likely to pass.  The new volunteer rate would become variable at the discretion of the IRS. The IRS will probably raise the volunteer rate to the moving rate (which is currently 24 cents). While this is a far cry from 100% of the business rate, we can work with the IRS later to ensure that the new volunteer rate is close enough to the business rate to make a difference.

a3Join a Free Conference Call to Learn about
Everyone Ready

Wondering whether Energize's online training program, Everyone Ready can meet your needs?  Get a short "sneak peek" at how it all works and learn how current members capitalize on using Everyone Ready in their organizations. 
Ask your questions (without feeling pressured) in a live conference call with Susan. There are three opportunities to join a call:
  • Wednesday, February 25th at 2:00 - 3:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time
  • Monday, March 2nd at 10:00 - 11:00 a.m. EST
  • Thursday, March 5th at 5:00 p.m. EST
The calls are free in North America; those of you located elsewhere can use Skype or other VOIP calling systems to dial into the landline at minimal cost.
To register, please e-mail everyoneready@energizeinc.com with your name, telephone number, and in which of the calls you want to participate.  We will respond with instructions for phoning in.
Remember, too that you can sign up for a $99 TRIAL MEMBERSHIP for two months, with automatic monthly credit card payments of $49.00 thereafter (you may cancel the monthly billing at any time after the initial $99 payment).  Enroll by March 13 and you'll be in time for Susan's online seminar, "New Approaches to Recruitment," that starts on March 16th.

a4Valentine's Day Gifts for Colleagues

Show a colleague that you think the world of him or her on Valentine's Day!  Here are four books that are special and make great gifts:
a5Susan's Tip of the Month: 
"The Importance of Self-Esteem"

Recently, a librarian in Indiana was being interviewed on National Public Radio about the increase in usage of public libraries, particularly of their resources for job hunters. The reporter asked if the library staff was feeling the strain, and the librarian mentioned that volunteers were really helping out. She noted that "gratitude" for library services was evoking all kinds of donated help, including one out-of-work patron who -- on his own initiative -- had been shoveling snow off the library steps after every storm to show his appreciation for what was available inside.
This story made me think about how people react to being helped. A lot of volunteering is based on the assumption that recipients of assistance acknowledge being "in need." But that may actually be the hardest thing about being helped: lowering one's self-esteem to accept the kindness of others. 
In emergencies, people are instantly forced to change their self-image. After losing a home to flood or becoming unemployed due to layoffs, a person may shift suddenly from being a proud donor or dedicated volunteer to a human service agency's "client." It takes a while to adjust how that person sees him/herself.
Even in times without crisis, it's vital to see recipients of service holistically. The patient in dialysis is also a high school teacher; the parent picking up donated food is a skilled but out-of-work carpenter; the homeless teenager is a budding artist. All individuals are multi-dimensional, even if we are focusing on one aspect of their situation. Can recognizing this uncover new volunteers and increase the self-esteem of clients?
If you know that someone is unemployed, invite him or her to apply as a volunteer, even if only temporarily. If you think that someone is reluctant to make use of your organization's services out of pride, consider presenting the transaction as barter or exchange.  For example: 

"There are a number of families in this same situation. Let's talk about how -- together -- we can help everyone. Maybe one of you can pick up the emergency supplies for those who have no transportation, while someone else can prepare larger recipes that can be frozen into portions for the one who is homebound."

No one should ever feel that this invitation to help with the solution is in any way an expectation in order to get the help. You might not use this approach with everyone.  But if you see a client who seems uncomfortable with "accepting charity," taking a "volunteer recruitment approach" might be win-win.

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
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