Energize Inc. logo
In this issue...
June Hot Topic: Days, Hours and Minutes of Service - Enough is Enough!

We Miss You on Our Hot Topics!

Coming This Month: A New Homepage Look and a New Bookstore Blog

Say Hello in San Francisco

AL!VE Launches This Month

Tip of the Month: "Interactive Modelling" Technique for Dealing with Supervision Problems
Recognition Idea
Downtown Mural

Many years ago Columbia, South Carolina had a construction project going on downtown with a rather ugly protective wall. The Volunteer Center coordinated a community-wide volunteer recognition event that started with permission to paint this wall and the donated services of an artist who painted an outline of people of every description tugging together on a rope.

The local agencies were asked to submit photographs of a representative volunteer. The photos were blown up and placed on the faces of the painted people in the mural. On a designated day, all the volunteers from all the agencies were invited to come out and paint in the rest of the mural!

The mural painting itself generated publicity that day (and new knowledge of volunteering in the community) and the mural stayed up for the duration of the construction project.

Share Your Recognition Idea

Volunteerism Quote
Remember, we all stumble, every one of us. That's why it's a comfort to go hand in hand.
- Emily Kimbrough

Submitted by Ed Madara, Director, American & NJ  Self-Help Group Clearinghouses

Share Your Quote

e-volunteerism logo

Everyone Ready logo
Energize Volunteer Management Update
June 2009
a1June Hot Topic: Days, Hours and Minutes of Service - Enough Is Enough!

With most people feeling time deprived, the old image of volunteering as an endless commitment, and a political climate urging civic engagement, it's easy to see why single
"days of service" have become popular. Organizing short bursts of volunteer energy can be useful, but this trend has proliferated to the point of absurdity, with ever-shorter time commitments. Susan cries "enough!" What do you think?

Read this Month's Hot Topic
You can subscribe to the Hot Topic as a podcast or RSS text feed -- or listen to the audio online.

a2We Miss You on Our Hot Topics!

We've noticed a drop in responses to our Hot Topics over the past two months. We don't want to lose the value of in-depth discussion. The more discussion, the more we reflect - and potentially affect - the thinking of our field. So, please tell us what you think and bring the Hot Topic discussion back to the richness we so appreciate.

Are you twittering instead? If so, we are now tweeting info weekly about news in the volunteer field.  Follow us at

a3Coming this Month: A New Home Page Look and a New Book Blog

A quick note to alert you to some long-planned changes to our Web site - the look, not the content! As the site grows (1200 pages and counting), we need to assure that visitors can find all the resources we offer. By the end of June you will see a new look and navigation tools on our home page and a redesigned bookstore main page. And we are delighted to announce the launch of the Energize Book Blog, focused on discussing volunteer management books. Of course we'll let you know more about this unique resource as it gets started.

a3Say Hello in San Francisco

The 2009 National Conference on Volunteering and Service will take place in San Francisco, CA, June 21-24. As always, we look forward to seeing many of you in person during that event. Susan Ellis will be presenting several workshops and Energize will have an exhibit booth on the 2nd floor of the conference center. Our booth number is 232 and we hope you'll stop by to browse the books on sale and talk to various Energize associates about Everyone Ready and e-Volunteerism.

a3AL!VE Launches this Month

AL!VE (the Association of Leaders in Volunteer Engagement) - a new national professional organization for volunteer resource managers in the United States - will launch this month at the 2009 National Conference on Volunteering and Service. This new body will use its collective voice to advocate for professionalism in volunteer engagement and will offer a network for those in the field to share experiences, best practices and knowledge, while furthering their professional development.

Membership in AL!VE is open to individual practitioners or those interested in volunteer engagement. Annual Individual Memberships are $50 per year. Visit AL!VE's website to learn more about the association's board, purpose, benefits, initiatives, and how to join (a redesigned site will be available this week).

For those coming to San Francisco for the conference, AL!VE will host exhibit booth #236 throughout the event. It will also offer a panel discussion on Wednesday, June 24 from 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. This session, entitled Volunteer Management Career Development and Networking Opportunities (workshop 1174), will explain more about AL!VE and what volunteer managers can gain by the increasing professionalization of the field of volunteer management.

a5Susan's Tip of the Month: "Interactive Modeling" Technique for Dealing with Supervision Problems

Many years ago I was taught something called
"interactive modeling" as a supervisory technique for dealing with problem behavior. It's deceptively simple but powerful in its effectiveness. Not only does it work with volunteers and employees, but you can use it on family members, too!

There are seven steps and the key is to do them in sequence. It may take more than one meeting to work through them all.

Step 1: Tell the volunteer there is a problem. Explain why it is a problem for you and the organization.

Surprisingly, this is harder than it sounds. Knowing that we are meeting to focus on a concern is uncomfortable, so we talk about the weather, a new movie - anything to slow down getting to the real subject (all the while the volunteer knows
"something's coming"). Pleasantly but succinctly, state your concern. But do not assume the volunteer knows why it's problematic! This may sound crazy, but unless you explain what makes the behavior a problem, you cannot be sure you are "solving" the same issue. Example:

You've been late several times this week. This makes our clients wait for the service they need and forces the staff to keep them occupied until you arrive.

The VERY important thing to remember is to only discuss the problem, not any possible solution at this point (e.g., do not add to the above: "...and you must start being on time").

Step 2: Agree on the problem.

If you both accept what you stated in step 1, you can move forward. But what if the volunteer says:

Well, I started coming in on time, but most often I ended up sitting around for 30 minutes or so. Did the staff really say they were waiting for me?

You can see how this response immediately changes the situation. It would lead you a different game plan than a response such as:

I'm so sorry. I thought I could get here at 9:30 but the traffic is worse than I expected.

Do not move to another step until you both agree on what the issue really is. Then...

Step 3: Ask the volunteer for a suggested solution.

The goal is get the volunteer to be the leader of the solution, not just do what you direct. Besides, the ideas she or he offers may be very good. If she or he can't come up with a possible plan right away, stop the meeting and reschedule in a few days to give the person a chance to think.

Step 4: Add your thoughts and negotiate a solution.

Just because the volunteer suggests something does not mean you have to accept it. But be open to the possibility that the suggestion may have merit. Respond with your ideas and go back and forth until you both agree on the plan.

Step 5: Agree on a timetable for implementation. Schedule when you will talk again.

The volunteer may feel on the spot and wish to make the conversation as short as possible, thereby agreeing to anything. So it's vital that - before you end the meeting - you agree on when the new plan or behavior will start. Also fix a time after that to talk again and see if it's working.

Step 6: Document the interaction.

After the volunteer leaves, write down your recollection of the conversation. Save a copy to file, just in case the negative situation escalates and you need to document the "case" for removing the volunteer. But, more positively, also send your minutes to the volunteer as a follow up, with a note such as: "so glad we had the chance to talk and here's what we agreed to do together."

Step 7: Follow up as agreed and:
  • Praise progress and reinforce the plan. Or....
  • If things haven't changed or have worsened, you have a new and different problem: "What we decided together hasn't worked."  Return to Step 1 and start again.

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
Pass It On!
Pass on this update to interested news groups and others who work with volunteers.

 Send to a Colleague

Material may be re-posted or printed without additional permission, provided credit is given to Energize, Inc., and our Web site address is included:  http://www.energizeinc.com/.