Energize Inc. logo
In this issue...
July Hot Topic: The Drive Towards "Highly-Skilled" and "Pro Bono" Volunteering

Announcing the Energize Book Blog

Report from San Francisco

Tip of the Month: Making First Contact with Corporations
Recognition Idea
A Free Evening

Many volunteers who donate their time to museums or other cultural institutions do so for access to the facility in addition to their interest in the mission...I felt the best gift we could give our volunteers was a free evening for them and their families in our great facility.

The bonus was seeing how easy it was to get staff to volunteer that evening so the volunteers could party...[and] hearing them say the next day how much they enjoyed meeting all the volunteers and seeing how much these people loved our science center.

I almost think the staff looked forward to this yearly event more than some of the volunteers, it was a great way to build camaraderie and a real morale booster.

-Submitted by Marcia Hale

Share Your Recognition Idea

Volunteerism Quote
Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.
- Edmond Burke

Submitted by Jackie Bowers, Illinois, US

Share Your Quote

e-volunteerism logo

Everyone Ready logo
Energize Volunteer Management Update
July 2009
a1July Hot Topic: The Drive towards "Highly-skilled" and "Pro Bono" Volunteering

New initiatives, such as A Billion + Change, are encouraging corporations to send "highly-skilled" and "pro bono" volunteers out to help nonprofits.  But the basics must be in place to utilize the offered expertise. Susan identifies six assumptions that need to be challenged -- not to negate pro bono projects but to assure their success.

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.

And thank you for the many replies to last month's topic! 

a2Announcing the Energize Book Blog

We have launched the Energize Book Blog as a new resource for sharing information about published resources (online or in print) that focus specifically on managing volunteer programs and leading volunteers more effectively.

The number of publications focused on volunteer engagement is growing each year, yet finding a section of "volunteer management" books at your local bookstore or library is still difficult. Even large online book venues categorize such resources as "nonprofit" or "business" books. So getting recommendations for good volunteer management materials relies on word-of-mouth. Energize's new Book Blog, moderated by Energize's bookstore manager Lindsay Liprando, will provide that forum for leaders of volunteers to share their opinions and hear from others "in the trenches."

In addition to colleagues posting comments, we will include the following features:
  • Interviews with volunteerism authors - and a chance for readers to ask questions
  • Recommendations of books that will help with current trends in volunteerism
  • Materials written for wider audiences, but that have helped leaders of volunteers strengthen their skills
  • Other features suggested by blog visitors over time
In the current post, author Steve McCurley shares his sage advice with a volunteer manager who's at a loss on how to handle some problematic volunteer behavior. To read more great posts planned for the coming weeks, be sure to visit the blog soon at http://www.energizeinc.com/blog/ , or sign up for the RSS feed at http://www.energizeinc.com/blog/feed/.

You'll also see a brand new look to the entire Online Bookstore -- we hope you like it.

a3 Report from San Francisco

Forty-five hundred people attended the National Conference on Volunteering and Service in San Francisco last week. The opening ceremony was a definite wow, featuring American First Lady Michelle Obama who gave a warm presentation that felt genuine and empathetic to the real concerns of the field. The lineup of other presenters was quite spectacular, too, including: Governor Arnold Schwarzenneger and his wife Maria Shriver (a long-time proponent of volunteering in her own right, whose father served as the first director of the Peace Corps), Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, political commentator Arianna Huffington, Jon Bon Jovi (who both spoke about his charitable work and sang three songs with his band), actor Matthew McConaughey, and various leaders of the Points of Light Institute and the Corporation for National and Community Service.  The four-hour session was celebratory and signaled an important new level of visibility and support for community engagement.

A number of new initiatives were announced at various points in the conference, including:
  • The "United We Serve" summer service initiative, beginning on June 22nd and running through what will now be called  the "National Day of Service and Remembrance" on September 11th.  The Obama administration challenges "all Americans to help lay a new foundation for growth in this country by engaging in sustained, meaningful community service." The new Serve.gov Web site is now branded with the United We Serve campaign.
  • A new multi-year project by the Entertainment Industry Foundation "to help make service and volunteerism a national priority." EIF will launch an unprecedented campaign beginning October 19th, within which broadcast networks will use America's favorite TV shows and personalities to shine a spotlight on the power of service.
  • A collaborative between The Corporation of National and Community Service and Microsoft Corporation's U.S. Partners in Learning to design and establish a "new national, student-driven virtual helpdesk for K-12 teachers and non-profits."
  • An agreement with the University of Phoenix to develop online training for HandsOn Network's "volunteer leaders," those volunteers who coordinate local project teams.
Over a hundred workshops provided conferees with information on all sorts of subjects, along with best practices, new research, and different perspectives on current trends.
Of course, the best part for us at Energize was meeting so many of our Web site visitors in person at our booth!  Maybe we'll see even more of you in June 2010 when the conference comes to New York City.

a5Susan's Tip of the Month: Making First Contact with Corporations

In every community, a few large businesses are known for their philanthropic activity and everyone seeking money and volunteers requests their help. This means competition and more rejections than acceptance. Yet in every community there are also scores of companies who are never approached to contribute to anything. We all know that most people volunteer because they were asked, so why not apply this recruitment principle to engaging corporations?
In recruiting individual volunteers, the challenge is to figure out where to look for the most appropriate prospects. The same is true in determining the businesses most likely to be attracted to supporting your organization. Don't stop yourself from contacting a company "cold" if you can start the conversation with something you have in common -- the reason why you think you should collaborate. For example:
  • You both are focused on the same audience. You help children; the company sells children's clothing.
  • You provide compatible services. You offer recreational programs; the company does weight loss counseling.
  • You are located in the same neighborhood. The closer your locations are to each other, the more obvious the reasons to get acquainted.  And employees can even volunteer before or after work, or even on lunch breaks.
  • Someone who works in the company is already volunteering with you.  It's always best if you have an "inside" champion to carry your message to people she or he knows.
A frequent question is: Who is the right person to contact in a company to reach employee volunteers? Unfortunately, there is no consistent answer. It depends on each business. Do a little research online and see if a company you want to approach has staff in any of the following categories:

  • Philanthropy/social responsibility/community engagement. Such offices are generally found only in the largest of companies, but are logical contact points if they exist.
  • Public relations/marketing. These staff may or may not be officially charged with fielding requests from nonprofit and public agencies, but they do understand their connection to "community relations."  Present your volunteer recruitment as an opportunity for positive image building and customer development.
  • Human resources/personnel/employee assistance.  Again, while employee volunteering may not officially be a human resources function, your approach here would be that volunteering: 1) builds staff teamwork and morale, 2) can be a way to train employees in new skills, or 3) can be a part of pre-retirement counseling.
In a small company, don't be afraid to start at the top. Call the President or CEO's office, explain your goal of connecting with the business, and ask who would be the best person to meet with about this. In the last analysis, although we talk about "companies," every business is a collection of individuals. So once you've made contact with someone willing to listen, your success will depend on winning that person's support first, and then attracting others together.

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/.