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August Hot Topic: I'll Never Understand Why Executives Still Don't Understand   


New Everyone Ready® Web Site Can Help You Educate UP

Free Electronic Books on Many Subjects

New in Our Online Journal: e-Volunteerism

Susan's Tip of the Month: Finding "Bootleg" Volunteers

Recognition Idea
Here's a neat way to deliver a quick thank you:  free ePraise® cards from Baudville, the company specializing in recognition products.  Click on the image you like, type in a personal message, and send the card right from this site to the e-mails you choose.


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Volunteerism Quote

"Our nation will succeed or fail to the degree that all of us - citizens and businesses alike - are active participants in building strong, sustainable and enriching communities."

-- Arnold Hiatt, President, The Stride Rite Foundation

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

Everyone Ready Online Volunteer Management Training
Energize Volunteer Management Update
August 2011
a1August Hot Topic: I'll Never Understand Why Executives Still Don't Understand   


Inexplicably, the subject of volunteer involvement is still far from a priority in most organizations. Susan highlights succinct key points to use as "sound bites" or "elevator speeches" in advocacy for our work - and invites you to share yours.


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.   

a2New Everyone Ready® Web Site Can
Help You Educate UP

For the most part, we don't need to convince Energize followers that powerful volunteer involvement depends on your whole organization being committed and educated to work with volunteers. The bigger challenge is convincing your colleagues and top administrators.


Our new informational site about the Everyone Ready online training program has two new tools for advocating the importance of involving the entire organization in engaging volunteers.


Share the "Why It Matters" Page with Your Colleagues


We've put together some top arguments for why it matters to include attention to volunteer involvement at all levels of organizational planning. Feel free to paraphrase, reprint the series of articles, or simply pass on the web address. And, look for more resources here over time.


We suggest grabbing attention by asking:

  • Are we, as an organization, tapping the full potential of volunteers?
  • Do we, as an organization, see the connection between skilled time donors, money donors, and passionate advocates for our cause?
Share this Video with Your Executive Team


Help your top decision-makers understand the importance of the entire organization being engaged with volunteer involvement with this short video, produced by Volunteering Queensland and featuring Energize president, Susan J. Ellis.


a3Free Electronic Books on Many Subjects

One of the ways we try to help the users of our online Volunteer Management Resource Library is to keep up with the growing numbers of really excellent  documents available from many sources at no charge on the Web. Each subject area page in the library has a section specifically for relevant and free electronic books. Two stand out this month:

  • Betsy McFarland's excellent book, Volunteer Management for Animal Care Organizations, has been for sale in our bookstore since 2006. The Humane Society of the USA, its publisher, has just made it available for free. It is geared specifically to the challenges posed by an animal shelter environment but can help any animal care organization build its volunteer program. Find it on our site in "Special Settings."

  • The Manual on the Measurement of Volunteer Work was released in March. Produced by Johns Hopkins University Center for Civil Society Studies and the International Labour Organization in collaboration with the United Nations Volunteers, this important work is an international tool for the world's governments to identify and count volunteer contributions. There is also a single-page FAQ document and Research to Practice editor Laurie Mook has reviewed it in the new issue of e-Volunteerism (see below).

a4New in Our Online Journal: e-Volunteerism

A new issue of e-Volunteerism, our international subscription journal, went live on July 15th:  Volume XI, Issue 4.  The following new articles are already available:   


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. 



a5Susan's Tip of the Month: Finding "Bootleg" Volunteers

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 who arrive in a roundabout way, bypassing the procedures of the volunteer services office and never being designated as "volunteers."  I call these "bootleg" volunteers (as in secret, under the radar).  There are many examples, including:

  • Graduate students doing professional, but unpaid, internships. Often the contact is made by university faculty directly to the relevant department head (social work, nursing, etc.) who responds as a professional obligation or courtesy.
  • Community groups visiting once a year to do Christmas caroling, plant flowers, or run a holiday party. Here the contact may come through the therapeutic activity office.
  • Clergy in chaplaincy programs. Their visits frequently go beyond an occasional friendly chat; the clergyperson may, in turn, recruit others from a congregation to provide additional personal services. This is often treated solely 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 in 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.
  • Pro bono advisors or consultants with special expertise who donate their professional services, generally directly to top executives or the board of directors.

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 all have in common. They:

  • Receive no financial remuneration from your organization (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 diverse schedules.
  • 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 expert consultant needs to learn how to use your phone system or database).
  • Require someone on staff to work with them effectively.
  • Have the same risk potential as anyone else and, should anything happen to them or because of them during their time on site with you, your organization is liable.
  • Deserve formal (and informal) thanks.

Who keeps track of them? Does anyone?  Are these people invisible except for the hours they spend on site?  Without a process for integrating such service providers into the organization, you don't screen them, have a record of their service, report their contributions, or even thank them properly.  They miss out on support and appreciation, while the organization doesn't get any benefit out of such important community involvement.


So go out and find those overlooked volunteers!


And here's a final tip 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!


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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Material may be re-posted or printed without additional permission, provided credit is given to Energize, Inc., and our Web site address is included: http://www.energizeinc.com/.