Energize Inc. logo
In this issue...

November Hot Topic: The Perfect Volunteer Storm 


Recognize Your Colleagues on International Volunteer Managers Day

CIMA VIS Members Receive Discounts on Energize Products

New in Our Online Journal,

Susan's Tip of the Month: Tackling Evaluation One Component at a Time
Upcoming Volunteer-Related Events

November 2012


Nov. 2 - Turning Point 2012, 5th Annual Conference on Volunteerism and Service 


Nov. 5: International Volunteer Managers Day! 


Nov. 7: People to People International Global Youth Forum 


Nov. 15: National Philanthropy Day (U.S.) 


Nov. 19: Everyone Ready Online Training: Educating Up: Gaining Executive Support for Volunteer Engagement


December 2012


Dec. 5: International Volunteer Day 


Dec. 10-12: 22nd IAVE World Volunteer Conference, London UK


December 10-11: 2012 National Disability Inclusion Leadership Development Institute 


Dec. 17: Everyone Ready Online Training: Fearless Fundraising for Volunteer Program Support

Follow Energize

Follow us on Twitter

Find us on Facebook

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

Everyone Ready Online Volunteer Management Training
Energize Volunteer Management Update
November 2012
a1November Hot Topic: The Perfect Volunteer Storm


An indescribable hurricane and a fierce presidential election in the same week! These two very different situations are both eliciting an outpouring of volunteer time and effort. Susan analyzes the implications for calmer times from the perspective of volunteer leadership.


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. 

a2Recognize Your Colleagues on International Volunteer Managers Day


It's here! International Volunteer Managers Day (IVMDay) is November 5th. And we at Energize want to celebrate all of you whose efforts every day welcome and support volunteers working on behalf of countless causes!


Take a moment to recognize your colleagues - and those who coordinate any volunteer activities in which you participate personally - by sending them a thank you note. We're helping you to do that by providing an e-greeting card, "Hats Off to You":



You can download the card as either a PDF or jpg file from the Energize site and from the IVMDay site. E-mail it, print it, make it someone's desktop wallpaper as a surprise. Whatever you do, be sure to thank any leader of volunteers that you know.


a3CIMA VIS Members Receive Discounts on Energize Products


Energize is collaborating with CIMA Companies, Inc. to offer members of the Volunteers Insurance Service (VIS) a 20% discount on books, e-Volunteerism subscriptions, and Everyone Ready online training memberships.


VIS was established over 40 years ago to address the accident and liability concerns specific to volunteer involvement. Its insurance protection separates the risks volunteers represent and provides excess coverage very inexpensively to organizations in the United States. Learn more about their services and products on their website, and download copies of their VIS Connections newsletter.


a4New in Our Online Journal, e-Volunteerism


e-Volunteerism is our international, subscription-based journal for informing and challenging leaders of volunteers. A new issue launched since the last Update, Vol. XIII, Issue 1, with the following articles fully available to readers:

The current issue will remain posted through January 14th. Other articles in this issue going live in the next months include: how to be a more effective writer in order to attract and motivate more volunteers; an essay from 1982 on working women and volunteer organizations (Voices from the Past); how to adapt the skills of professional coaching to supporting volunteers, and more.


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.


a5Susan's Tip of the Month: Tackling Evaluation One Component at a Time


I frequently get asked "how often" to evaluate "the volunteer program." This is the wrong question, as it is not possible review and assess an entire operation all at once. Break your evaluation goals into several components:


1. Project evaluation: This is assessment of each different activity done by volunteers. When something new is launched, it clearly needs close monitoring through its first year -- benchmark evaluation, if you will. At roughly the first year anniversary, do a more thorough evaluation for the purpose of making sure the project is working; see what needs fine tuning, etc. Then, the second year, reassess anything you revised after year one. After that, evaluation can be less formal for a while.


2. Assessment of effectiveness: It's vital to continuously monitor outcomes and impacts of volunteer efforts, especially so as not to waste volunteer time. It is always of importance to know: Are we meeting real needs? In the most beneficial and appropriate ways? Do our methods work? Do clients want us to do this...or something else?


3. Volunteer management practices: This is assessment of the infrastructure of how well the volunteer involvement strategy is being implemented. It includes considering such questions as: Are we satisfied with the results of our recruitment outreach? How could we be more effective in finding the kinds of volunteers we want and need? How are relations between paid and volunteer staff? How do volunteers assess the orientation and training they receive from us? What is the level of volunteer satisfaction? How can we get better? What do we do right so we can do more of it? A thorough evaluation of this type can be done through something like my Volunteer Management Audit tool every few years or so. But it is probably smart to do focused assessments perhaps twice a year. For example, in February ask questions specifically about orientation and training; in August, do the same thing for recruitment; and so on every six months or so.


Important Note: The biggest mistake you can make when evaluating anything is not knowing what you wanted in the first place. It is impossible to assess anything unless someone has articulated goals and objectives BEFORE the period started! First you have to know what you set out to do. Then you have to design and gather the right data to demonstrate accomplishment in those areas. And only then, after some time has passed, can you ask: Did we do this? Did we do this well?


4. Individual volunteer performance assessment: While this is part of good volunteer training, supervision, and recognition, it is also closely connected to program evaluation because one way to meet program goals is to have the best performing volunteers. As I just noted above about goals and objectives, you can't assess a volunteer unless he or she agreed in advance to a written position description. This forms the basis of the question: How did things go in the past X months?


Employees hate annual performance reviews that feel like student report cards. Make that double for volunteers. So, some tips are:

  • Consistently assess everyone -- don't single out problem volunteers. Make it a matter-of-fact annual discussion.
  • Call it an "Action Plan" and look forward, not backward. Come with ideas for how the volunteer might advance (if they want to) or select other assignment options.
  • Make it a two-way opportunity for feedback. What does the volunteer think might be improved in the agency? How would they like to be trained or supervised?
  • Talk about volunteer commitments to assignments in terms of no more than one year at a time: "So, let's agree you'll do this work for the next 12 months and then we'll see how things are going." This allows you to praise/recognize great work and allows the volunteer to re-commit to another year, or it allows either of you to say "perhaps it's time to try something else." No one should feel they "own" an assignment in perpetuity. Rotation is healthy for everyone and keeps volunteers fresh.

If you are not going to use what you learn from any evaluation effort, don't bother doing one. I mean it. It isn't an ending, but a beginning of the next round of service provision. So it has to be a learning experience and a way to guide next steps.


Also, don't look only for problem areas. We can learn as much from our successes as from our failures, especially if intended to replicate what works or do more of it. Also, if we identify good things, too, we won't scare people away from our evaluation process the next time around out of fear of uncovering failure. And of course, learning what's going well makes for great new things to say at the next volunteer recognition event.


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
Pass It On!
Pass on this update to interested news groups and others who work with volunteers.


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/.