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January 2012
In This Issue
Featured Title: Keeping Volunteers: A Guide to Retention
More Resources
Excerpt: "Attractor Volunteer Positions"
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Happy New Year! And to our American colleagues, best wishes for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day (January 21) and any service events you may be in the middle of running. MLK Day is possibly the most successful national day of service in the U.S., but single days of service have also become commonplace around the world. Starting a new year is the perfect time to reflect on the best ways to prepare for such events or other short-term volunteer opportunities.

resource Featured Title
Keeping Volunteers: A Guide to Retention
Steve McCurley and Rick Lynch

In general, this book is about how to enhance volunteer retention and motivation, avoid volunteer burnout, and more - subjects of critical interest to every volunteer program manager.


Keeping VolunteersChapter 10 focuses in on "Moving Volunteers from Short-term to Long-term Commitments." Since many organizations rely on volunteers for more involved work, this chapter is ideal for developing a system for encouraging single day of service or short-term volunteers to increase their commitment little by little.


Read an excerpt from this book below.


This book is available as an e-book (PDF) for immediate download. (US$10.00)


Order Keeping Volunteers: A Guide to Retention today!
resource2 Other Resources
Days, Hours and Minutes of Service - Enough Is Enough!

Susan J. Ellis questions the proliferation of single days of service in her 2009 Hot Topic. Recognizing reality, she also gives a list of ideas for keeping our sights focused on making a genuine difference to the community we serve even with single service days. Free article! 
e-Volunteerism: The Electronic Journal of the Volunteer Community

"Planning and Executing Successful Large-Scale Days of Service"
For this e-Volunteerism Training Design feature, HandsOn Network has generously shared the training toolkit they developed to prepare volunteer leaders to run successful days of service.

"Thinking the Unthinkable: Are We Using the Wrong Model for Volunteer Work?"
In a 2003 issue of e-Volunteerism, Steve McCurley and Susan Ellis debate the issue of how to handle the increase request for short-term volunteer opportunities. The asked, "Should we re-think the approach to volunteers entirely, including how to design volunteer positions?" Were they right?

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Non-subscribers can read these and all journal articles from the past 12 years with affordable 48-hour access.
Resources Book Excerpt

Attractor Volunteer Positions

Excerpted from Keeping Volunteers: A Guide to Retention by Steve McCurley and Rick Lynch, Fat Cat Publications, 2005.


Attractor [volunteer] positions can also accomplish the desired goal of getting prospective volunteers to "test the waters" in the organization. Designing good attractor positions can be viewed as similar to developing assignments that might be handled by a consultant.


They should have the following characteristics:

  1. They have a definite goal or result in mind, often a definite product.
  2. They have a defined timeframe, usually fairly short.
  3. They may require a particular expertise or ability.
  4. They can be "owned" by the volunteer, in the sense that the responsibility for accomplishment will be clearly bestowed on the volunteer.
  5. It will be clear whether the work is done successfully or not.
  6. They should directly relate in some way to the talents of the volunteers or to a group or activity that the volunteer cares about.

The key phrases to remember in developing these events are "hands on," "fun," and "immediate gratification."


Permission is granted for organizations to reprint this excerpt. Reprints must provide full acknowledgment of the source, as cited here:

Excerpted from  Keeping Volunteers: A Guide to Retention by Steve McCurley and Rick Lynch, Fat Cat Publications, 2005. Found in the Energize, Inc. Online Bookstore at


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