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In this issue...
March Hot Topic: AmeriCorps and Senior Corps Targeting Volunteer Management

Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day - with a Volunteer Twist!

Reminder: Weekly News from the Field

Tip of the Month: Volunteers below the Radar
Recognition Idea
Chocolate Bars

We always have our volunteer recognition event in June but I did not want National Volunteer Week to go by without some special acknowledgment. During April, I sent all our volunteers a chocolate bar and an invitation to our recognition BBQ in June.

It was such a small and simple gesture but I have never had so much feedback. This way even the volunteers who never come to events received a treat, and they were surprised and thrilled.

Submitted by Linda Sunderland, Hospice Peterborough

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Volunteerism Quote
"If you can't go where people are happier, try to make people happier where you are."

- Ashleigh Brilliant

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Energize Volunteer Management Update
March 2010
a1March Hot Topic: AmeriCorps and Senior Corps Targeting Volunteer Management

We are now seeing implementation of the idea that AmeriCorps (and also Senior Corps) members can be deployed as volunteer coordinators in organizations that do not have staff to lead volunteer involvement. Susan examines the potential and concerns of this initiative and concludes: "It is absolutely critical that we, as professionals in volunteer management, monitor these developments and get involved early, rather than too late." 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.

a2Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day - with a Volunteer Twist!

What began over 16 years ago as "Take Your Daughter to Work Day" to show girls the many types of careers adult women have, long ago expanded to include boys and a larger scope.  The idea is described like this on the program's Web site:

Designed to be more than a career day, the Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work® program goes beyond the average "shadow" an adult. Exposing girls and boys to what a parent or mentor in their lives does during the work day is important, but showing them the value of their education, helping them discover the power and possibilities associated with a balanced work and family life, and providing them an opportunity to share how they envision the future and begin steps toward their end goals in a hands-on and interactive environment is key to their achieving success. Each year, we develop new interactive activities and partnerships that will assist us in taking girls and boys to the future they dream of.

Doesn't it sound to you like volunteering fits right in, as well? Ironically, the 2010 Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day falls on April 22, right in the middle of National Volunteer Week in the USA and Canada. So...why not piggyback on the publicity and hold a "Take Your Youngster to Volunteer Day"? Invite every volunteer to bring in a son, daughter, grandchild, niece or nephew and throw a party to show what mom/dad/gran/aunt/uncle does when she or he says, "I'm going to volunteer this afternoon."

The day can be fun for everyone - and a nice form of recognition event, too, since the volunteers will get to show off in front of youngsters they care above. You'd also be investing in the future, since these children will learn early that volunteering is as important to life as a paid job. If you have any volunteers already taking their children to their place of employment for the Day, suggest they add on a visit to your agency at the same time.
Then, of course, write a press release and see if you can get local media to cover your event as a "new twist" on a day that happens every year.

a3Reminder: Weekly "News from the Field" Postings

We send this Update monthly, but also update the Energize homepage every week, on Sundays. Specifically, we select something of interest that has come across our desks in the past week or so and post it as a "News from the Field" item.  We put a teaser line on the homepage, but then describe the news in more detail on an interior page. You can always catch up because we continue to show past news items in reverse chronological order on that page. In fact, we archive the news every six months and keep the archives also accessible to you.
In February, the news items included links to a major new report on Baby Boomers and volunteering, a heads-up on an attempt to get the U.S. Congress to revisit the volunteer mileage deduction issue, notice to nominate young volunteers for a $2500 award, and more.

You can get the news item as an RSS text feed or follow us on Twitter, as we tweet the headline each week.

a5Susan's Tip of the Month: Volunteers below the Radar

Are you keeping track of all the volunteer support your organization receives? Are you sure? In the course of a year, it is common for agencies to benefit from the donated services of a wide range of people, yet only those formally designated as "volunteers" are reflected in the reports of the volunteer program. Who doesn't get counted? People who come to the agency in a roundabout way, bypassing the procedures of the volunteer services office - flying in "under the radar," so to speak. Examples include:
  • Graduate students doing professional internships. Often the contact is made by the university program directly to the relevant department head (social work, nursing, etc.). Because these students are just about fully trained and are called "interns," welcoming them is seen as a professional obligation or courtesy by the staff, to whom it may seem insulting or irrelevant to treat them as "volunteers."
  • Groups who help the organization collectively, perhaps for one visit a year such as caroling, garden clean-up, or running a holiday party. Here the contact may come through an activity or therapy office, or even directly through administration.
  • Clergy who visit under various types of chaplaincy programs. These visits frequently go beyond an occasional friendly chat. They may be regularly scheduled and the clergyperson may, in turn, recruit others from a congregation to provide additional personal services. This is most often viewed as service to the client, rather than as service to the organization.
  • Children of staff and board members. It is not uncommon for an agency to become surrogate child care, particularly for teenagers. "Helping out" after school or during long school holidays usually means coming to the office with mom or dad and doing a variety of odd, generally menial, jobs. Even more frequent is bringing along one's family members (of any age) to help at a special event.
  • Advisors or consultants with special expertise who donate their professional services, generally directly to the board of directors or to the executive staff.
It doesn't really matter if these service providers think of themselves as "volunteers," nor is it necessary to use that word to describe them. But here is what they have in common with each other and with the more traditional concept of a volunteer. They:
  • Receive no financial remuneration from the agency for their services (even if they are paid by their own employers, they are not reflected on your payroll).
  • Come to the facility for short periods of time on a diverse schedule.
  • Generally have no real understanding of how your organization functions prior to coming in to help.
  • Need basic instructions to do their assignments properly (even the consultant needs to learn how to use your phone system or database).
Does anyone keep track of these time donors from an organization-wide perspective or are they largely invisible? Without a process for integrating such service providers into the volunteer corps, you won't screen them, have a record of their service, report their contribution, or even thank them properly. They will also miss out on support and appreciation, as well as invitations to contribute in additional ways.

Most organizations want to demonstrate that intangible called "community support." If you continually under-report the actual contributed services you receive by ignoring volunteers normally below the radar, you aren't providing a true picture of how many citizens prove through their actions that they care about your work. 

One final note about all those relatives of staff and volunteers who are dragged into helping at a special event. Slap a button on them that says "official volunteer," get their names, and give them some choice as to what they'd like to do (rather than being a "go-fer" for their relative). Afterwards, say thank you to them. You might end up recruiting some genuinely willing volunteers!

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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