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June Hot Topic: Reimagining Service: Is Corporate HR Management What We See?

Find Us at the Conference in New York

Free Download! Strategic Volunteer Engagement

Tip of the Month: Grab Bag of Tasks
Recognition Idea
Sundaes on Wednesday
For volunteer appreciation week this year I am planning an ice cream sundae party at a local ice cream parlor. The invitation will say: "Sundaes on Wednesday... You are important to us every day of the week!" It will be a "drop by" function and I'll be there to treat them to an ice cream sundae!
-  Submitted by Becky Swindell

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Volunteerism Quote
"There are two kinds of gratitude: the sudden kind we feel for what we receive; the larger kind we feel for what we give."
- Edward Arlington Robinson

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Energize Volunteer Management Update
June 2010
a1June Hot Topic
Reimagining Service:  Is Corporate HR Management What We See?

The "Reimagining Service" initiative in the United States is moving forward. While the well-intentioned national figures involved are trying to do something meaningful, it is painfully obvious that none are aware of the profession of volunteer management.  Instead, the report and a new "HR Action Team" are pushing the concept that corporate human resources professionals are the key to building the capacity of nonprofits to engage volunteers. Really?

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.

a2Find Us at the Conference in New York City

Energize, Inc. has been a consistent annual exhibitor at the National Conference on Volunteering and Service. Unfortunately, this year there will be no vendor exhibit area at the event. But Energize will be on site - and, even though it may be a little tougher this year, we're looking forward to meeting you in person! Here are some definite and possible ideas in the works:

  • For those of you attending the pre-conference Advanced Volunteer Management Institute (AVMI), Susan Ellis is on the faculty and will have books available for sale there.
  • At the conference, look in your participant bag for a free "mini-poster" declaring Volunteers: The Power to Change the World - our gift to you and an introduction to our free, info-packed Energize Web site for newcomers to the field.
  • Susan is presenting one session at the main conference, on Wednesday morning, June 30th, and will have some books there, too.
  • Are you an early bird? Then meet us on the mornings of Tuesday, June 29th and Wednesday, June 30th at 7:00 a.m. for "Books and Bagels."  Susan will lead a discussion among featured authors Betty Stallings, Rick Lynch and Steve McCurley, on the topic: How to Educate Your Executive.
Finally, we'll have a display pod near the workshop rooms at the Hilton where we can place notices of special times and places to meet with you. If you want to learn about Everyone Ready while you're on site, or purchase our books, check out the "pod" for details. We wish we could announce the meeting schedule now, but know that our clients are so smart and determined, we will find each other, despite the obstacles! We may even try using real-time Twitter to connect on site, and there are always cell phones. See you there!

a3Free Download! Strategic Volunteer Engagement: A Guide for Nonprofit and Public Sector Leaders

What do executive directors and leaders in public sector organizations really think about volunteers? That was the question that propelled The Volunteer Champions Initiative, a collaborative research project funded by The Volunteer Impact Fund with assistance from the OneStar Foundation and conducted by Sarah Jane Rehnborg, Ph.D. from the University of Texas' RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service.

The research study report, Strategic Volunteer Engagement: A Guide for Nonprofit and Public Sector Leaders, offers a framework and guidance for executive directors interested in engaging volunteers to reach strategic goals in their organizations. In 40 concise pages, this e-book explains common organizational myths about volunteer engagement, a step-by-step guide to planning for volunteer involvement, and an overview of management considerations based on the type and nature of volunteer engagement.

Rehnborg drew on the experience of research collaborators Susan J. Ellis of Energize Inc., Betty Stallings of Building Better Skills, Jane Justis of the Leighty Foundation, and Jackie Norris (retired) of Metro Volunteers in Denver in conceiving the project, and then ran focus groups of executive directors in Austin, Texas and Denver, Colorado. These sessions found that organization leaders are not so much "negative" about volunteers as they are exceptionally busy individuals juggling multiple responsibilities with insufficient information about volunteer engagement. Strategic Volunteer Engagement captures concerns raised by these leaders and provides a framework for thinking about volunteer involvement.

During the summer of 2010, you may download this e-Book at no charge in exchange for answering 10 brief questions about your work with volunteers by going to www.serviceleader.org. While you're on the ServiceLeader website, check out other resources for managers and instructors - it's the home of the original virtual volunteering research conducted by Jayne Cravens in the 1990s.

a5Susan's Tip of the Month: Grab Bag of Tasks

If you're like me, whenever a volunteer comes up to you and says, "I have some extra time today (or this week), so what else could I do?" - every idea for what needs to be done suddenly drops out of your head! It's frustrating because we all want to direct volunteer time and skills towards work that's truly meaningful.

Here's an idea. Train yourself (and others) to write down work assignments as you think of them at any time. These can be the sublime to the mundane, from developing a five-year plan to cleaning out the supply closet. Not "busy work," but things that genuinely would be of use but aren't at the top of anyone's current to-do list. In between the plan and the closet might be things like:
  • Check that reading materials in the client waiting room are current, in good shape, and offer variety.
  • Take important instruction sheets and photocopy them at 125% so that the enlarged type can be read more easily by someone who is vision impaired.
  • Find a great children's story about volunteering that could be read on a visit to a school.
  • Go through the photographs of the last event and pick the best three to post online.
  • Handwrite thank-you notes to the officers of the community groups that helped with a special event.
  • Talk to a new volunteer about how her or his first month is going.
  • Interview a unit supervisor about what else the right volunteers might do in that work area.
You might also break down a big project into small bites. For example, if you're coming up to a big celebration and are creating centerpieces, figure out how long it might take to sit down and do one decoration only - or if people can come and go from the work area, as time and interest allows.

Put each idea on a separate slip of paper and number it. Then jot down some quick instructions (or which staff member to see to do this piece of work) and file the papers by number, matching the slips.

Separate the slips into tasks that can be completed in 1 hour, 3 hours, and a day or more. Then put them into three bowls or boxes, with the timeframe marked on the outside.

The next time someone offers to do something extra, let them pick a slip at random. If they don't like it, they can pick again, but at least you'll know that everything in the bowls is a real task. Sure some of the things will be clerical or physical, but when volunteers offer you an extra hour or two, they want to do something useful and will understand if it is a smaller or less sophisticated task than their usual assignment.

Note that the grab bag tasks could also be used if someone brings along a friend or teenaged child for the day. It's also a way to respond to a staff member with a special request that you can't fill immediately. Tell the person it will become a grab-bagger item (and maybe you'll put it on yellow paper so it can jump out visually!).

You can even keep an electronic list of short activities that can be done virtually or off-site and do something similar by e-mail, if you have volunteers who work remotely.

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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