|Energize Volunteer Management Update|
|March Hot Topic: How Serving the Volunteer Field Has Changed after 35 Years - Or Not?
Energize is celebrating its 35th birthday this month! What has changed since 1977 in how we do business, and also in the volunteer world? On the surface, a lot. But maybe the more things change, the more they stay the same. Take a look back with Susan and share your thoughts, too.
Read this Month's Hot Topic
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|New! "Big Time" Volunteer Management Training for Small Organization Budgets |
Everyone Ready®, the online volunteer management skill-building program we created for large, national organizations, now includes an affordable enrollment option for everyone else!
For 8 years, you've heard us tout the benefits of Everyone Ready online training designed for national organizations to train all their team members to welcome and work with volunteers most effectively. But if you work at a local or small agency, the price left you out. No more! We've just created the Small and Mid-sized Organization Membership as a new way to bring premier, comprehensive training on volunteer involvement skills to your entire team -- year round, on-demand -- whether learning individually or as a group, for only $8.41 per month per learner!
Organizations don't have to be big to be powerful. But they do need volunteers. That means they need the same powerful training. The Small to Mid-Sized Membership in Everyone Ready lets you enroll your paid staff and leadership volunteers in increments of 25 learners, matching your size. Contact us to discuss options for getting everyone in your organization prepared to work with volunteers.
|Free Booklet: 25 Tips for Optimizing Online Communication with Volunteers! |
We want you, our valued Volunteer Management Update readers, to enjoy our 35th birthday party. Birthdays mean presents, so we're giving one to you! We've compiled "25 Tips for Optimizing Online Communication with Volunteers" into a 5-page booklet and want you to have it for free. It's a small thank you for subscribing to this monthly Update.
(Depending on your browser, this PDF booklet will either download automatically or open in your browser window. If it opens automatically, and you would like to save it to your hard drive, simply click File and choose Save As while viewing the PDF.)
Please Help Spread the Word
We want to share the Update with as many people as possible and so are now offering this free booklet to anyone who signs up for this e-newsletter. Please help us spread the word about the value of this monthly communication to you and that there's an immediate bonus for signing up now! You can use the "Pass It On" feature at the bottom of this Update to send it directly to others. Thank you!
|New in Our Online Journal, e-Volunteerism
e-Volunteerism is our international, subscription-based journal for informing and challenging leaders of volunteers. The current issue is Volume XII, Issue 2. The following articles have been posted since the last Update:
Still to come this quarter is an update on the Volunteer Impact Program in King County, Washington, USA.
This issue continues through April 14th and then, as always, will remain accessible to subscribers in the journal's Archives.
You can subscribe to e-Volunteerism for a full year or for 48-hour access. Note that subscribers have full access to the archives of all twelve volume years.
|Susan's Tip of the Month: Actions Speak Louder than Words
Frederick Hertzberg's famous 1959 study of employee motivation proved that what workers want most is attention, particularly from bosses. In a test putting two groups of people into identical work situations, productivity rose measurably in the group where the plant manager simply walked through the room a few times a day.
This has useful implications for the connection between the executives of an organization and the volunteers who contribute their time and skills. As simple as it sounds, ask your executive to make it a point to be visible. Volunteers (and paid staff) feel valued by the presence of decision makers, all the more if they express interest in what's going on.
Never underestimate the effect of a warm greeting. Genuine friendliness throughout the year has more lasting impact than any speech at a recognition dinner. If it's feasible, help your exec to learn the names of regularly-scheduled volunteers and use them. If you have groups of volunteers who come on site together, suggest the exec drop by once in a while to say hello or, even better, occasionally join in with the work for a while (which may mean turning up in jeans and getting dirty hands!). It's amazing how much this sort of gesture is appreciated.
One executive director of a food bank we know tries to welcome every organized group to the facility at the start of their shift, especially if this is a one-time project. She asks the volunteer coordinator to give her a few details about the group so that she can personalize the greeting, too. Her rationale is that a few minutes of her time sets the tone for the project, demonstrates appreciation, and wins friends for the food bank over the long term.
More Motivating Executive Actions
There are other ways top managers can demonstrate their support of volunteers as valued team members. With the help of the leader of volunteers, executives can:
- Build on the elementary concept of greeting volunteers casually by finding ways to ask their opinions or give input about something. Circulate brief surveys along with a note that says how much the organization values volunteers' perspective on such matters, since they represent the community.
- Host bi-annual feedback sessions (think of how the paid staff might like this, too).
- Monthly, invite a random group of perhaps six volunteers to meet with the exec for morning coffee for 30 minutes, during which s/he gets to pick their brains on what they are observing in the facility. Word will spread that you care what volunteers think - and the exec will find their perspective eye-opening.
- Volunteers will also be proud to be agency ambassadors, if requested. Send a memo from the executive explaining a new service or project, attaching information about it or instructing how to learn more. Ask volunteers to tell the news to others in the community. Be sure to give volunteers tours of new units or branches, answering their questions while encouraging them to "talk it up" with their friends, family, and work colleagues.
- Create one or more assignments directly helping the executive director and other top managers, possibly as consultants or coaches with special expertise. This models that the expectation of staff/volunteer teamwork is for everyone and immediately counteracts the notion that volunteers work only at the lower levels of the organization.
- Ask that each department to include information on the contributions of volunteers in its regular progress report to management, apart from the general information that would be in the volunteer services report. Volunteer services can give cumulative data about volunteer involvement throughout the agency, but only the unit doing the actual work can explain what volunteers accomplished. This reporting expectation sends the message that volunteers are indeed integrated throughout the organization.
- Prevent "silo" thinking by periodically convening planning sessions for community outreach at which the volunteer services staff and the staff of the public relations/marketing, human resources, and development departments meet together to exchange ideas, mesh projects when possible, and maximize itineraries. It's up to the executive to facilitate such cross-department interaction and to encourage these folks to see one another as resources.
- Spend some money on volunteers. Volunteers are happy to give their time without remuneration and don't want expensive gifts. But they are quite aware of where they sit in the pecking order of budgeting. They resent watching the volunteer coordinator position cut back or eliminated. Less drastically, volunteers notice if the volunteer program office has cast-off furniture or insufficient equipment, while other offices seem to be favored.
When the top executive is welcoming and authentic to volunteers, it takes far fewer words to produce loyalty and commitment. And those words will never be mere lip service.
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.
5450 Wissahickon Ave. C-13
Philadelphia PA 19144 USA
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