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November 2010
The Executive Role in Volunteer Involvement
In This Issue
Special Set: Executive Role in Volunteer Involvement
Other Resources on Executive Involvement
Excerpt: "Establishing Outcome Measures"
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Middle Managers: Their Vital Role in Volunteer Success
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Decisions about involving volunteers are often made at the top executive level and carried out in daily work by staff members on the front line. In the middle are department heads, branch managers, and unit supervisors who are vital to the success of volunteer engagement. This Guide explores the often-overlooked role of middle management in setting expectations for each unit, coaching both paid staff and volunteers, advocating up the chain of command, and monitoring that benefits outweigh effort.

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For volunteers to be successful in accomplishing organization goals, top executives must provide attention, vision, and financial commitment. We all know this but wonder how to elicit such critical action. Let's help executives to help us! Energize has produced some key tools specifically to guide executive directors and other top administrators in championing volunteer engagement - and in supporting the leader of volunteers, too.
resource2 Featured Resources
Special Set: Executive Role in Volunteer Involvement
Order two dynamic books for one low price and save! This executive set of two new books published this year helps CEOs hit the ground running. Build your organization's capacity to gain the most from volunteer participation and create a culture where volunteers are true team members.

From the Top Down: The Executive Role in Successful Volunteer Involvement, 3rd ed, by Susan J. Ellis
The only book to address what's needed from top decision makers to ensure volunteers contribute significantly to the organization's mission. Learn to articulate a vision for volunteer involvement, create policies and set expectations, staff the effort, budget and find funds to support volunteer engagement, handle legal and risk issues, and guarantee volunteer-employee teamwork. Learn more...
From the Top Down

Leading the Way to Successful Volunteer Involvement: Practical Tools for Busy Executives, by Betty B. Stallings with Susan J. Ellis
Put the principles explained in From the Top Down into action with step-by-step worksheets, checklists, idea stimulators, and other helpful tools. Find tools for developing a statement of philosophy about volunteers; developing a budget for volunteer involvement; writing a case statement to secure funding for volunteers; writing a position description for a director of volunteer involvement; asking good questions when interviewing candidates; integrating support for volunteers into every unit and department of your organization; and much more. Learn more...

Corporate Tango
Save money by buying both books together.
resource2 Other Resources
12 Key Actions of Volunteer Program Champions: CEOs Who Lead the Way
Describes the key actions that need to be taken by CEOs to increase the effectiveness of volunteer engagement and numerous ways to diminish identified barriers. Based on Betty Stallings' 2005 study of executives considered by colleagues to be exceptionally supportive of their volunteer programs and of the managers of those programs. Free download.

Stalking the Elusive Executive: A Dozen Tips for Getting Your Top Decision-Makers to Read (and Learn from) Volunteer Management Literature
A dozen strategies written mainly for leaders of volunteers who need help in gaining administrative support, even to get their bosses to read a book on the topic of volunteers! Free download.
Resources Book Excerpt
Establishing Outcome Measures
Excerpted from chapter 2 "Considerations in Planning," in From the Top Down: The Executive Role in Successful Volunteer Involvement, 3rd ed. by Susan J. Ellis (Philadelphia: Energize, Inc. 2010).

You develop strategic plans with goals and objectives for all organizational programs, projects, and services and should expect volunteers to work toward those just as employees do. But it is helpful to consider exactly what you expect volunteer involvement to accomplish in any period. There is no reason to let abounding gratitude for donated volunteer time restrain an organization from setting standards of achievement. In fact, volunteers usually prefer to have some way to assess their service contribution.

In developing initial and then ongoing goals and objectives, bigger is not always better. Having "more" volunteers this year than last year does not self-evidently mean better service delivery or greater impact. Some organizations would actually be better off cutting their volunteer corps in half and holding those remaining to higher standards! The number of volunteers needed is a strategy determined by expectations of productivity. So, if you wish to provide 15 percent more client services next year, somehow you need to add 15 percent more effort. This might be provided by asking each current volunteer to give an extra two hours a month or by recruiting additional, new volunteers.

Recognize, too, that the body count of how many people are in your volunteer corps does not translate into a standard number of hours contributed. Fifty volunteers each giving two hours a month provide the same output as five volunteers who can give twenty hours. The amount of effort necessary to recruit and support the larger number of volunteers is clearly much more intense, without the payback of more service. On the other hand, if your programmatic goal is community education, you may feel that getting fifty people to participate is more beneficial than just five. See? It depends.

Focus instead on the outcome and impact of volunteer activity. What results do you want volunteers to produce? As with employees, it is possible to monitor and measure the accomplishments of volunteers by stating goals and objectives at the beginning of a period-and then assessing whether these were achieved. See chapter ten for more about evaluation.

In formulating goals and objectives for volunteer involvement, you might consider such questions as listed below:
  • What do we expect individual volunteers to accomplish in each position category?
  • What ethnic and cultural diversity do we want represented in our volunteer engagement?
  • What kinds of skills would we like volunteers to bring to our services?
  • What reaction do we want our consumers to have to the service they receive from volunteers?
  • What effect do we want volunteers to have in assignments such as public education, public relations, and so on?
  • What outreach efforts do we expect our director of volunteer involvement to make this year?

Permission is granted for organizations to reprint this excerpt. Reprints must provide full acknowledgment of the source, as cited here:

Excerpted from From the Top Down: The Executive Role in Successful Volunteer Involvement, by Susan J. Ellis, 2010, Energize, Inc. Found in the Energize, Inc. Online Bookstore at
Energize, Inc.
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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.
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