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In this issue...
December Hot Topic: Budget Cutting and Volunteers

Important New Report from Colleagues in Minnesota

International Volunteer Day is Dec. 5th

Post Your Educational Event to Our Calendar (It's Free!)

Tip of the Month: Deck the Halls and Check the Pulses
Recognition Idea
Staff-made Volunteer Dinner

For our annual holiday party this year we cooked and served a full course meal! Staff volunteered to cook and were all assigned jobs; cooks, plate fillers, servers, etc. We collected donated gifts and drew names for a chance to pick one. Everyone contributed decorations...

Our physicians said grace and toasted the volunteers to reaffirm their value in our organization. It was a tremendous gift of caring by the staff and a wonderful experience of feeling appreciated by the volunteers!
- Submitted by Corrie McGibney, Coordinator of Volunteer Services, Village Clinic

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Volunteerism Quote
"I slept and dreamt that life was pleasure, I woke and saw that life was service, I served and discovered that service was pleasure."
- Rabindranath Tagore

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Energize Volunteer Management Update
December 2009
a1December Hot Topic: 
When the Ax Falls: Budget Cutting and Volunteers

Can an organization turn to volunteers to fill gaps when budgets are cut and employees laid off?  This ancient question has resurfaced, for obvious economic reasons.  Most volunteer program leaders feel their stomachs tighten when this issue is raised.  But we have to let our brains keep working and find a way to respond with care and concern when our organizations are struggling for their lives.  Economic crisis is a teachable moment, with the potential to educate everyone about smart, motivating engagement of volunteers.

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.

a2Important New Report from Colleagues in Minnesota

The December Hot Topic references the newly-released report, The Status of Minnesota's Volunteer Programs in a Shifting Environment. This survey of 280 nonprofit and governmental organizations was conducted in late September by the Minnesota Association for Volunteer Administration (MAVA). 60% of organizations reported an increased reliance on volunteers. MAVA furthers its reputation as one of our field's outstanding professional societies by the way they have responded to a critical issue and how they have presented the information. Hard facts - no whining - solid ideas.  Get the report and more details at www.MAVANetwork.org/shiftingenv.

a3International Volunteer Day Is December 5th

International Volunteer DayJoin colleagues around the world in celebrating volunteers on the United Nations-declared International Volunteer Day (IVD), 5 December. Even though the event is only a few days away, you can still participate. Visit the Web site  for ideas, publicity materials, and logos. Or start planning today for IVD 2010!
This year, the theme of IVD is Volunteering for our Planet, aimed at supporting the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, starting 7 December. It aims to demonstrate that people are willing to take positive action and that volunteers are a part of the solution.

a4Reminder: Post Your Educational Event to Our Calendar (it's free!)

As 2009 winds down, it's time to think ahead to what's scheduled for the coming year. Please remember that Energize offers a calendar of volunteer management-related workshops, conferences, academic courses, and more -- anywhere in the world -- and it's free to post your event with us. As long as your program is open to public registration and is focused on volunteer issues, we are happy to help you spread the word. The power of the Web is that this sort of calendar promotes your event far and wide, and you never know whether you'll attract someone from far away who is visiting your city or someone from across the street whom you've never met!  Of course, you may simply want to use the calendar to plan your own professional development opportunities.
Happy Holidays!
Talking about 2010 is a great lead-in to wishing all of our readers an abundant and joyful holiday season, with hopes for only good things in the new year.  
- Best to you all, the staff at Energize, Inc.

a5Susan's Tip of the Month: "Deck the Halls and Check the Pulses"

The end of one year and the start of the next is a great time to "check the pulse" of people in your organization. Keep things easy with a very short feedback request consisting of only two main questions -- one looking back over the year ending and the other looking ahead. But ask for a specific number of short responses to each.
For  example:
  1. In 2009, what two things did you do or see someone else do that you felt were really important to the people we serve?
  2. For 2010, what two things would help you to be even more successful in your work here?
Note that the questions do not necessarily have to be about volunteers, nor do you have to limit the participants to volunteers only. In fact, asking everyone, regardless of position or pay status, to respond will allow you to use the responses to demonstrate the role of the volunteer office in organizational recognition and planning. Here are two ideas for how to do that, based on the sample questions above.
Sharing the many answers you will get to question #1 will make everyone feel good (it's that time of year, after all).  You might even post the "really important" actions on big sheets of newsprint in some area seen mainly by paid and unpaid staff. Make sure the comments are legible and presented seriously, but you can also use colored markers, glitter, whatever, to make these posters festive. (Be sure to say something at the top such as "The Volunteer Office Wants You to Know..." so that you get the credit for the idea!)

For question #2, you might collate the answers and group them under topic headings. Distribute the list to everyone individually. There are many ways you can go from there.  You might ask everyone to circle the five ideas they like the best and promise that, in 2010, you will attempt to put volunteer energy into those areas. Or you might offer to facilitate a meeting in each unit or program to discuss what's needed and what you, collectively, can do to accomplish this. 
One important caveat: Do not ask for any feedback that you can do nothing about!  In other words, if you do not feel able to tackle the issue of "what do you need to be successful," ask a different question. The whole point is not to conduct a survey per se, but rather to use the holidays to make people reflect positively on what they did throughout the year, and then to be upbeat for next year.  

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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