Energize Inc. logo
In this issue...

December Hot Topic: End-of-Year Reports Can Illuminate Volunteer Achievements 


International Volunteer Day (5 December) Takes on a New Focus

Energize Online Bookstore Adds New Resources

New in Our Online Journal,

Susan's Tip of the Month: Why Student "Interns" Are Indeed Volunteers
Upcoming Volunteer-Related Events

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


January 2013


National Mentoring Month, USA 


Jan. 21: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service USA 


Jan. 21: Everyone Ready Online Training: Pitfalls and Obstacles to Volunteer Involvement: Your FAQs

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

December 2012

a1December Hot Topic: End-of-Year Reports Can Illuminate Volunteer Achievements


Are volunteers acknowledged in meaningful ways in your organization's annual reports and other public documents? Use the holiday season to celebrate the gifts volunteers provide all year long and educate everyone with surprising and valuable information.


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. 

a2International Volunteer Day (5 December) Takes on a New Focus


International Volunteer Day (IVD) was established by the United Nations General Assembly through Resolution 40/212 on 17 December 1985. Since then, governments, the UN system and civil society organizations have successfully joined volunteers around the world to celebrate IVD on 5 December. In some countries, IVD acts as a rallying point the way that other countries use a National Volunteer Week.


From the first, IVD was an initiative of UN Volunteers (UNV), which coordinated and publicized national activities commemorating volunteers. This history can still be reviewed on the UNV Web site. However, some key changes were being made within the UN and, as of the last few weeks, IVD has a new Web site, new branding as "Volunteer Action Counts," a new logo, and a new mission:


The main focus of IVD 2012 is awareness of and recognition for volunteers and volunteer organizations. The purpose is to recognise this commitment, to inform people about the impact of volunteering on peace and sustainable development, and to applaud volunteers for their dedication and impact.


Now IVD is linked to "Rio+20," an event in June 2012 commemorating twenty years since the first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This seems to mean a broadening of the concept of "sustainable development" to various environmental concerns.


Although we are a bit puzzled at this enlargement of focus and at the sudden appearance of a site at which individual volunteers can "register" and celebrate their efforts, Energize encourages everyone to make whatever use of IVD works for you!


Download the free logos and other materials and use them to proclaim the universality of volunteering. Encourage volunteers to register at the site, if they wish. Most important, use December 5th as a great excuse for talking about volunteers in your organization. See our recent blog post for examples.


a3Energize Online Bookstore Adds New Resources


It's been a busy period for acquisition of new volunteer management materials to offer our Online Bookstore customers. Two new books and one DVD are now for sale:


Top Tips for Recruiting Volunteers (DVD)Top Tips for Recruiting Volunteers (DVD) features Australian trainer Martin J Cowling delivering an engaging lecture. Built around the important topic of volunteer recruitment, his practical "12 Essential Tips" will assist organizations in thinking about all aspects of volunteer engagement differently.

Strategic Volunteer EngagementStrategic Volunteer Engagement: A Guide for Nonprofit and Public Sector Leaders, by Sarah Jane Rehnborg, et. al.
Based on a university research study of executive directors, this report makes a strong case for investing in volunteer effectiveness and introduces a new Volunteer Involvement FrameworkTM with which to plan future volunteer engagement.

Share of Mind, Share of HeartShare of Mind, Share of Heart: Marketing Tools of Engagement for Nonprofits, by Sybil F. Stershic
Focuses on a nonprofit's most powerful asset -- its mission-driven people - and shows how paid staff and volunteers are full partners in maintaining the organization's image and impact in the community.


Looking ahead to 2013, the Online Bookstore is preparing to add more resources on topics as diverse as volunteer management in museums and cultural institutions, readings on faith and service, and several exciting revised editions of best-sellers! Stay tuned for more information to come or sign up to receive the Energize Book Buzz, our monthly e-newsletter specifically about resources in the Online Bookstore.


a4New 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, Vol. XIII, Issue 1, and the following articles were made available to readers since last month's Update

The current issue will remain posted through January 14th. Two more pieces, completing this issue, will go live in December: a feature article on how to be a more effective writer in order to attract and motivate more volunteers, and a Training Designs article on how to adapt the skills of professional coaching to supporting volunteers.


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: Why Student "Interns" Are Indeed Volunteers


It is a recurring debate in our field whether or not students who receive academic credit for performing an unpaid curriculum-based internship should be considered "volunteers." I contend that they most certainly are, and that it matters a lot for such students to be under the administration of the volunteer resources office. Here's why:


Academic credit cannot be negotiated at the store for a loaf of bread. Just as other volunteers, student interns do not go on your payroll; they may benefit greatly from their service, but not financially. Further, many student interns contribute far more hours to the agency than the minimum required by the school. Is this extra time not "volunteering" in its purest sense?


Sometimes the argument is that student interns require pre-professional roles not often assigned to other volunteers. Maybe it is time to reassess all volunteer assignments, not just those intended for student interns. Creating positions that truly contribute to the organization's services and allow for learning, growth and development is clearly in the best interest of everyone - and will attract a higher caliber of adult volunteer, too.


It takes skill to design good internship assignments, to which too many students left with little to do for a semester can attest. The basic considerations mirror good volunteer work design and it is the volunteer resources manager who can assist in crafting tasks or projects that can be:

  • accomplished within various, limited schedules;
  • handled by someone inexperienced (even if knowledgeable);
  • supervised by a staff member without being a burden; and
  • passed on to successors with minimal interruption.

Once student-focused work has been identified, the volunteer resources office can maintain the list of all internship position vacancies throughout the organization, recruit applicants, and do initial screening and matching. By centralizing internship applications, many staff members will save time by not having to contact various colleges individually and you make sure that all students are told of every available opening. Individual staff supervisors are only aware of what is available in their one particular unit and cannot offer the prospective intern the full range of assignment options. The staff supervisor makes the final decision on acceptance of the intern, just as with any volunteer candidate referred to a unit. But, if a student is not right for one unit, only the volunteer resources manager has the overview necessary to see if there is another possible placement that would be more appropriate.


Every newcomer to the agency deserves an orientation and the volunteer resources office is already set up to provide this. If interns by-pass the volunteer resources office and go directly to a line supervisor, they will not get an overview of the entire organization. Training for the specific task to be done will then be given to the intern by the supervisor (the member of the profession involved), as is appropriate.


There is also a public relations argument for centralizing the coordination of internships in the volunteer resources office. This sort of process allows faculty from all schools to make one contact a semester, referring all the student internship candidates at one time. Similarly, requests for end-of-placement evaluations can be also channeled (one call for the school) to the volunteer resources manager, who can then monitor whether all forms have been submitted as required. Copies of such evaluations can then be kept in the volunteer office with the student intern's other records, so that future references can easily be provided.


If volunteer resources is not in charge of student interns administratively, where will records be kept on student interns? Is anyone keeping such records at all now? Who monitors how much staff time is being spent on interns, how many students have been placed, or what the performance level of interns has been? If for no other reason, it may be necessary to document the work of interns to meet insurance requirements, since, as with all volunteers, there are accident and liability considerations for interns.


Transitioning from an Internship
Student interns separated from agency volunteers rarely receive formal recognition of their accomplishments during their internships. Completing required school evaluations is important feedback, but not necessarily a thank you for work contributed. Only the volunteer resources office can represent the entire agency in expressing the appreciation most students have earned.


It is common for a percentage of students to want to remain active with the agency after the official end of their internships. Are they then expected to "transfer" to the volunteer resources office - or will they remain undocumented (and, essentially, unauthorized) in an unclassified state? In one workshop I taught, a participant admitted that she knew of at least three students who had kept right on with their work for over a year after their school ties had ended, but no one reported it until she asked why the young people were still around. Some of their co-workers in the unit were not even aware that the official internships had ended. Parenthetically, is this the best way to help students with their education? Maybe these students were ready to move on to more challenging assignments in another part of the organization, but no one was responsible for making this offer to them.


As so often happens, there is a ripple effect to doing the right thing for student interns. Not only do students get a more meaningful work experience with greater benefits to the agency, but all volunteer involvement is strengthened. Internships may appeal to a wider audience than simply students, staff raises their expectations of unpaid help, and all volunteer assignments are fully integrated into the organization.


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/.