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In this issue...

March Hot Topic: Why Social Media Is Not the Cure-All for Building Volunteer Engagement 


Visit with Us at Upcoming Conferences

Are You Ready for National Volunteer Week?

New in Our Online Journal,

Susan's Tip of the Month: Beware of Mental Conversations
Upcoming Volunteer-Related Events

March 2013


American Red Cross Month 


Mar. 1: Registration deadline for 2013 CVA certification cycle 


Mar. 13: 24th Annual National Service-Learning Conference, U.S. 


Mar. 18: Everyone Ready Online Training: Bridging the Gap between Volunteers and Employees 


Mar. 22: Australasian Retreat for Advanced Volunteer Management  


Mar. 31: Cesar Chavez Day of Service


April 2013


Apr. 9: Mayors Day of Recognition for National Day of Service (U.S.) 


Apr. 15: Everyone Ready Online Training: Risk Management Issues


Apr. 22: Earth Day 2013: The Face of Climate Change 


Apr. 21-27: National Volunteer Week (U.S. and Canada) 


Apr. 26: Global Youth Service Day

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News in the Volunteer World Blog

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

Everyone Ready Online Volunteer Management Training
Energize Volunteer Management Update

March 2013

a1March Hot Topic: Why Social Media Is Not the Cure-All for Building Volunteer Engagement


Everyone is buzzing about social media, hoping to "go viral" and grab the attention of prospective new volunteers. But, for most organizations, the medium is not the message. Susan examines how the basic principles of volunteer recruitment still apply in our electronic age.


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. 

a2Visit with Us at Upcoming Conferences


Our North American colleagues are probably considering whether to attend a regional or national volunteerism conference this year. The 2013 National Conference on Volunteering and Service will take place June 19-22 in Washington, DC. Energize, Inc. will have a booth in the exhibit area and we hope to use that opportunity to meet with many of you in person. We'll share more about our plans closer to the conference date.


For those of you who prefer an event of 500 people rather than 5,000 - and who want to be sure all the workshops and speakers are focused on topics of interest to volunteer resources managers - consider attending the Minnesota Conference on Volunteer Administration, May 8-10, in Minneapolis. Energize will be exhibiting at this event, too, and Susan Ellis will also be a speaker. So will Rob Jackson from England, long-time editorial team member of e-Volunteerism, and a range of colleagues from Canada and the U.S. This conference, run by MAVA (MN Association for Volunteer Administration), is always a premier event. Early-bird registration discounts are available until March 15.


a3Are You Ready for National Volunteer Week?


Both the United States and Canada commemorate National Volunteer Week every April. This year it will be April 21-27. Other countries have selected different times, but no matter when (or where) you recognize volunteers, there are some great free resources available to you:

Energize attempts to keep track of international events such as these, so please keep us informed!


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 2 which will run through mid-April. As always, all past articles continue to be available to subscribers via the journal's archives. These new articles became available to readers since last month's Update:

  • You might ask "What Have Bicycles Got to Do with It?" As pedal-powered transportation continues to gain popularity in urban centers throughout the world, long-distance cyclist Tristan Dahn takes a look at the many volunteer activities surrounding this two-wheeled trend. While all are interesting as projects, some activities have elements applicable to any sort of volunteer management.
  • This quarter's Points of View essay (always accessible to any site visitor free of charge) is co-authored by Rob Jackson and Susan J. Ellis: Philanthropy and Giving Are Not Just about Money. They question why volunteering is so often dropped out of the definition of common resource development vocabulary.

Still to come in this issue are articles on how one university professor teaches critical issues in volunteering (and you can, too), a Voices form the Past feature on volunteers in juvenile and adult courts in the 1960s, and a review of a study on how volunteer value is communicated.


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: Beware of Mental Conversations


We all talk to ourselves. That's fine as long as we remember that we are taking both sides of the conversation and so are really only hearing one point of view: our own! Sometimes mental conversations can help us to take successful action by anticipating someone else's reaction and rehearsing our response. But if we manage to talk ourselves out of doing something, we may be giving ourselves bad advice.


This is especially evident in recruiting new volunteers. A prospective volunteer needs to be asked to become involved, but one of the biggest mistakes we make is not actually issuing an invitation to the people we most want. Why? Because we have mental conversations in which we effectively say "no" for the prospect.


It's important to aim high for the best volunteers. This may mean engaging a company CEO, a university professor, or anyone well-known in the community. Too often when we identify a great, top-choice person who is super qualified for a volunteer role we want to fill, we get cold feet about asking him or her to join us. In our heads we picture ourselves explaining the need and then - in our own voice - start thinking:

  • S/he will never want to do that (or come here).
  • S/he is much too busy (or important) to want to volunteer with us.
  • I am not important enough to get his or her attention to invite them.
  • I'll bet they get a hundred invitations like this all the time.

Of course, if you talk yourself out of giving the person the chance to consider your volunteer opportunity, you cannot ever snag them for your organization. Not because they said no, but because you did!


A variation on this theme is deciding, all by yourself, that no one will ever want to volunteer on a Sunday afternoon (and so you don't even plan an activity for that time, even though the clients would love it). Or being certain that no one under the age of 70 will be interested in a quiet activity or that no one over 70 will agree to communicate by texting. Until you speak up and ask, you cannot be sure and you risk missing some wonderful opportunities.


Mental conversations can also work against us when there is a problem involving a volunteer. Before we even give the volunteer a chance, we are thinking:

  • S/he is going to be really offended when I say something.
  • What do I do if s/he stomps out...and then calls the executive director?
  • I'm so much younger (or less experienced) than him or her, why would they want to listen to me?
  • S/he is going to tell me that we've always done it this way.

It may require a bit of courage to open a real dialogue with the volunteer, but why anticipate hostility or resistance? After all, talking together can uncover many other things. Maybe the volunteer has been dissatisfied for a while but did not know how to open the subject with you or really wants to move on to something else but didn't want to leave the organization in the lurch. Maybe you'll discover that the situation is not what you thought it was: rather than the volunteer being at fault, some other factor has caused a problem, whether that might be another volunteer or employee, a change in procedures, new equipment, or whatever. A real conversation can therefore lead to a course of action that's mutually acceptable.


The sooner you get the conversation out of your head and onto the table, the less a problem will fester and grow. Address something done wrong the first time it happens, when your comments will be heard as helpful feedback or even training.


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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