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In this issue...
May Hot Topic: Short Attention Spans versus Long-term Causes

It's Not Too Late to Come to New Zealand!

New in Our Online Journal: e-Volunteerism

News about e-Volunteerism

Susan's Tip of the Month: How Healthy Are Your Group's Vital Signs?

Recognition Idea
When volunteers are discouraged, hand out sticky notes, with "Stick with it!" written on top.

Submitted by Sara Ervin

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Volunteerism Quote
Good ideas remain ideas - unless we act upon them.

- Submitted by Andy Fryar, Vice President - Volunteering Australia, Australia

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e-Volunteerism: A journal to inform and challenge leaders of volunteers

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Energize Volunteer Management Update
May 2011
a1May Hot Topic: Short Attention Spans versus Long-term Causes

We are unlikely to end hunger, cure disease, or achieve world peace in our lifetimes, yet some volunteers are willing to work toward such goals one day at a time. Yet, we live in a world of very short attention spans. How can we reconcile the long-term demands of most causes with the "what's-new-today?" push of media attention? How do we continue to recruit the volunteers we need for the long haul?

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.   

a2It's Not Too Late to Come to New Zealand!

Do you think world travel is out of the question for you, or out-of-reach? Certainly it costs money and takes time, but where there's a will, there's a way. These days so many wonderful professional development opportunities are happening in many different countries that you might start planning for a trip that combines learning and fun. And sometimes the costs may be lower than you expect - do some research!

Right now we're finalizing the preparations for the 2011 Australasian Retreat for Advanced Volunteer Management which will occur for the first time in New Zealand at the end of this month (25-27 May). It immediately follows the New Zealand National Volunteering Conference (23-24 May). Both will be held in Wellington. There are still some slots available for both events. Why not check out the airfares and join us?

If there is not enough planning time for this month, why not look further ahead? You can learn about events around the world in the Events section of the Energize Web site, where we list conferences by region of the world. Maybe next year you can organize a wonderful vacation around a learning experience, broaden your horizons, and make lasting international friendships (and maybe even get a tax deduction!).

As always, we call on all our readers to make sure conferences and workshops in their geographic area are posted to our site. There's no charge - we like to connect everyone.

a3New in Our Online Journal: e-Volunteerism

The new issue of e-Volunteerism, our international subscription journal, was posted on April 15. It is Volume XI, Issue 3. Some of the new articles already available to subscribers are: ...and more, including several articles that will become available over the next two months.

Subscribe to e-Volunteerism for a full year or for 48-hour access. Note that subscribers have full access to the Archives of all eleven volume years.
a4News about e-Volunteerism 

The new issue of e-Volunteerism introduces two new elements.

First, we welcome Laurie Mook as the feature section editor of Research to Practice. Laurie, research associate at the Lodestar Center for Nonprofit Innovation and Philanthropy at the University of Arizona, is co-author of What Counts: Social Accounting for Nonprofits and Cooperatives. You can read her first review for our journal of the recent Canadian study, Bridging the Gap: Research into Volunteer Changes.

Second, from this issue forward, each new Points of View essay by Susan J. Ellis and Steve McCurley will be available to all site visitors free of charge. We decided to offer this complimentary access to this popular feature as a way for non-subscribers to sample the content of e-Volunteerism and also to make this quarterly essay more interactive with a wide range of readers - perhaps also to invite more discussion through the comments option. It will act as a sort of blog for the journal. So we invite you to read the new Points of View, Paying to Play: Charging Fees to Volunteers, and post your opinion.

Of course, we hope that getting this taste of the journal will make new visitors want to subscribe to get access to all the past Points of View essays and the entire contents of e-Volunteerism!
a5Susan's Tip of the Month: How Healthy Are Your Group's Vital Signs?

Readers of this Update work with volunteers in many different ways. Usually this Tip focuses on volunteers working alongside paid staff, but there are many all-volunteer groups out there. You might be the officer of a membership association or civic club, or you may be the paid staff liaison assigned to connect with an auxiliary, friends group, or other self-led volunteer body.

In their effort to get and keep new members, all-volunteer groups rarely step back to assess how they do their work - and whether their processes are keeping pace with the demands of today's volunteers. The following are some key questions to open discussion with group leaders. They can be used at board meetings - perhaps one or two at a series of meetings - or as the focal point of a retreat or special think tank convened to consider the future of the group.
  • Are we adding new members and growing according to our goals? Or... Are we losing current members faster than we are recruiting new ones?
  • What's the difference between why members join at the start and why they stay? Why do some members lose interest or fade away? Are they right to leave?
  • How welcoming are we to newcomers, really? What exactly do we do to show them they are welcome - beyond greeting them at their first meeting?
  • How current is our information about long-time members? Have they been "typecast" into certain roles or expectations? Do we know how their skills (or lives) have changed over the years?
  • Are we able to get members to run for office or to accept other leadership roles (without pulling teeth)?
  • Do we have and enforce a rotation policy? If not, what does that mean for future leadership development?
  • Do we have any "entrenched" long-time members who - if we're honest - turn others off? How do we deal with these sorts of issues?
  • Are our members so devoted to past and current programs and projects that they resist change or innovation? How do we deal with that?
  • What happens when someone has a new idea? Do we have a process for genuinely considering suggestions and options for the "minority opinion" to be heard or for individuals to pursue different options?
  • Are we having fun?
This last question is seriously about fun! If volunteers are no longer enjoying their service, something is wrong. It is definitely possible to work hard and still have fun, but if the joy is gone, the future of the group is bleak.

View the archives of these Updates since 2008 - Susan's monthly Quick Tips are listed there for you.
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 USA
Phone: 215-438-8342
Fax: 215-438-0434
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