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In this issue...

April Hot Topic: Revisiting the Seven Deadly Sins of Directing Volunteers 


Free Song Recording in Time to Recognize Volunteers

More Great Books Added to the Energize Online Bookstore

New in Our Online Journal,

Susan's Tip of the Month: "The Role of Intermediary"
Upcoming Volunteer-Related Events


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


May 2013


May 8-10: Minnesota Conference on Volunteer Administration


May 13-19: National Volunteer Week (Australia)


May 20: Everyone Ready Online Training: Integrating Volunteers throughout Your Organization


May 22-24: Administrators of Volunteer Resources British Columbia Conference (Canada)

Stay Connected with Energize

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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

April 2013

a1April Hot Topic: Revisiting the Seven Deadly Sins of Directing Volunteers


In 1980 and 1990, Energize produced a mini-poster with the dramatic title of "The Seven Deadly Sins of Directing Volunteers," which proved extremely popular. Susan considers whether the "sins" have changed now in 2013 - and asks for your help in generating a list for today.


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. 

a2Free Song Recording in Time to Recognize Volunteers


Raheem Dilgir is a lyricist, vocalist, arranger and producer of songs, based in Vancouver, Canada. He contacted Energize, Inc. with a wonderful request: to help him share and disseminate a special song called "Century of the Volunteer" in time for National Volunteer Week in North America.


You can download an MP3 file of his recording of the song and a PDF of the lyrics and his background information, and read about his perspective, in the March 19 posting to the Energize News in the Volunteer Field Blog.


How can you use this audio? Well, you could:

  • Play the song at volunteer recruitment or recognition events
  • Use it as the background music for video footage or a slide show that shows expressions of volunteerism
  • Adopt it as a theme song (especially for young volunteers) to learn and sing as a group

Please let us know if and how you incorporate the song into your volunteer recognition event.


The song is permanently available on the Energize Web site in our Collective Wisdom - Songs area. To hear more of Raheem Dilgir's compositions, visit his site.


Thank you, Raheem!


a3More Great Books Added to the Energize Online Bookstore


We continue to add new publications to our online bookstore - and are very pleased at the increase in new titles related to volunteer management. Now available are:


The Abundant Not-for-Profit by Colleen Kelly and Linda Gerty
This book offers leaders a new road map for transforming their organizations with talent, not money, by meaningfully engaging and integrating volunteers as knowledge philanthropists.


Volunteer Management in Cultural Institutions: A Practical Handbook by Izabella Csordás
Experience-based and thoughtful guide to creating and managing volunteers in arts settings, combining western best practice with the perspective of Eastern Europe.


And there's now also an e-book version of Strategic Volunteer Engagement: A Guide for Nonprofit and Public Sector Leaders, by Sarah Jane Rehnborg, et. al.


Finally, congratulations to Sybil Stershic whose book, Share of Mind, Share of Heart: Marketing Tools of Engagement for Nonprofits, just won a 2013 Small Business Book Award.


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:

A new issue of e-Volunteerism (Vol. XIII, Issue 3) will launch on April 15th. Look for Part 2 of Rehnborg's article on classroom techniques, as well as other articles: a first-person account of volunteering in the Muslim community; a Research to Practice review of a study intriguingly titled, "Take this Job and Love It: A Model of Support, Job Satisfaction, and Affective Commitment among Managers of Volunteers"; an overview of Web resources on the topic of interviewing volunteers; and much 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 previous volume years.


a5Susan's Tip of the Month: "The Role of Intermediary"


In most cases, the person responsible for volunteer involvement finds and prepares volunteers, but then day-to-day supervision and teamwork occur at the front line between volunteers and the paid staff in each department and unit. So a key role of volunteer management is serving as an intermediary. Depending on the situation, this role can be consultant, educator, liaison, advocate, advisor, arbiter, or cheerleader.


Certainly implies a lot of different skills, doesn't it?


Part of the challenge is balancing the needs and perspectives of a range of stakeholders.



Volunteers are obviously the stakeholders who come to mind first - although it doesn't hurt to keep reminding your colleagues that volunteers are not "yours"; they are everyone's responsibility. And if anything, you are their liaison.


The volunteer office is the point of entry into the organization for all volunteers. We're the people they usually meet first and they form their opinions and expectations of volunteering from us. We "enroll" them and - just as a human resources department does for employees - we interview and orient them, keep their records, track their progress, and more. If any disagreement occurs between volunteers and the employees to whom they are assigned, the volunteer office is the most logical third party to involve in the resolution of the problem.


We have an obligation to any volunteer to be an advocate, willing to challenge paid staff if that volunteer is not treated well. We start this advocacy when we advise on creating volunteer assignments that are truly meaningful. But we also have the obligation to give a volunteer honest feedback if that person is contributing to a conflict. We are also the ones who should monitor that all volunteers are growing and thriving in their roles, when they deserve recognition, and when they might need or want to move into another type of assignment.


We must also give volunteers the chance to speak for themselves. Forming a genuine advisory council or steering committee of representative volunteers shares ownership and creates allies in talking to all the other stakeholders in the organization.


Paid Staff Who Work with Volunteers

Clearly, we also have a responsibility to the employees who have been asked to partner with volunteers. This begins with recruiting the best and most-qualified volunteers possible and preparing them to hit the ground running once placed in a unit.


It's vital to be a good listener in our role of intermediary with paid staff - and not to become defensive when we hear comments that are based on inaccurate or unknowledgeable assumptions. We have to empathize with employees who, almost by definition in most organizations, are overworked (and often underpaid) and to whom volunteers may offer help but also - let's be honest - more work, too. How can we adapt to the employee's needs when legitimate, such as paying attention to times during the week that a volunteer may be more a distraction than assistance? Or is it fair to ask the same staff person to keep training a parade of new volunteers when we might create a leadership role for an already-experienced volunteer to welcome newcomers?


More than anything, when it comes to employees, we are educators. So few professions include courses on working with volunteers in professional/academic education. Staff may not even know what they don't know about volunteers! The volunteer resources manager has to provide formal training to new staff and in-service training to all staff but, most critically, must find opportunities to consult with individual employees to improve their volunteer management skills as situations arise in daily work.


Middle Management Holding Frontline Staff Accountable

Middle managers - unit supervisors, program coordinators, branch directors, etc. - could be considered the invisible obstacle to successful volunteer/staff relations. Why? Because they are very important yet usually overlooked at several key stages of volunteer engagement. The leader of volunteers should ensure that:

  • Middle managers participate in developing and sign off on volunteer position descriptions in their area of responsibility.
  • Middle managers see the time their reports spend with volunteers not as an interruption or distraction from their work, but as vital to accomplishing priorities.
  • Both overt and implied messages middle managers give to their paid and volunteer staff members in unit meetings convey the value of volunteers.
  • Middle managers themselves partner with volunteers in getting their own work done - and are thanked for this teamwork.

Top Administration (Including the Volunteer Board)

We understand the importance of the executive and board of directors as those "above" us -- the ones who make key decisions, allocate resources, determine priorities, and judge our effectiveness. But what about our importance to them?


Depending on the size of your organization, top executives and the board may be quite removed from seeing the daily impact of non-board volunteers and completely unaware of the contributions of the volunteer office to the process. Is the subject of volunteering on the agenda at any management team or board meeting? Based on what information? Have you asked to present at such a meeting?


Volunteer resources managers once again must be advocates to bring attention to volunteers as time donors, highlighting the importance of donated skills in the spectrum of other community support and side-by-side with financial gifts. We must speak the language of the organization's decision makers, not simply as cheerleaders (though enthusiasm is important) but as representatives of an in-house treasure trove of great talent.


The Recipients of Service

Different organizations take varying approaches to their clientele, but all too often the services offered to those clients are determined solely by the paid staff or funding source. That does not need to be the way volunteer services are provided. We can talk with as well as to the recipients of service to assure volunteers that what they are doing is truly of help. We can even enlist the clients themselves - or past clients or client families and friends - as volunteers, when appropriate. And if we have our finger on the true pulse of client wishes, think how useful our knowledge can be to every one of the stakeholder groups above!


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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