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Volunteer Management Update
July 2013
July Hot Topic


All too often, volunteers are assigned to staff at the lowest rungs of an organization's hierarchy while senior and middle managers never partner with them at all. Let's change the status quo. Read this month's Hot Topic or listen to the audio version.


You can subscribe to the Hot Topic as a podcast or RSS text feed - or listen to the audio online. 

Volunteerism News Watch


This month we've made some changes to what we've been calling the "Energize News in the Volunteer Field Blog." We renamed it "Volunteerism News Watch," added a spiffy logo, and welcome the editorial team of the e-Volunteerism journal in finding news to share.


As you know, Energize is continually updating the content of our Web site, which we are on the lookout for percolating trends affecting our field and new resources to help leaders of volunteers. When we find items of note, we write share them via the blog. Help us identify news-you-can-use...and please respond to any blog post with your opinions and additional resources.


The monthly Hot Topic (see above) is our editorial or opinion piece. The "Volunteerism News Watch" is the place to learn about what's new for practical, day-to-day volunteer management.

Online Bookstore
BOOK EXCERPTS: Tools You Can Use

Many of you who subscribe to this monthly Update also receive our monthly Book Buzz newsletter and may be familiar with the excerpt from a featured book that we highlight each month. But are you aware that we post a short except from every book we carry in our Online Bookstore? Visit the bookstore, choose a title that interests you, and scroll down to read the brief excerpt that we think helps illuminate the author's writing style and subject of the book.


Book excerpts are undoubtedly helpful in deciding whether or not you'd like to purchase a title, but they can also come in handy in your day-to-day volunteer management duties. Many of the excerpts are short pieces of advice that can be reprinted in newsletters, e-mail communications with staff and volunteers, and handouts for training others how to work with volunteers. You can find an excellent example on the description page of Betty Stallings' and Susan's book, Leading the Way.


Please feel free to "lift" the excerpts for whatever purpose you have without further permission from us. We only ask that you please credit the author and that you found it in the Energize, Inc. Online Bookstore.

What's New in e-Volunteerism


The current issue, Volume XIII, Issue 3 of e-Volunteerism, our international, subscription-based journal for informing and challenging leaders of volunteers, runs through mid-July. 

Free Access this Month:
From the Archives: Today's Corporate Workplace Volunteering in Context (Volume VI, Issue 2, January 2006) - David Warshaw gives insight into what drives businesses to establish employee volunteer programs. Since these efforts are here to stay, his context-setting remains relevant.
Subscriber Access Only:
(Subscribe for a full year of 48-hour access)

The Muslim Tradition of Service in Contemporary Times - Shelina Gwaduri explains the strong impact of her Muslim faith personally and on community involvement, and provides insight into how organizations can engage native and immigrant Muslims in volunteering.


Using Skills Analysis Techniques for Successful Volunteer Learning - Sue Jones answers the key questions: "How do you get volunteers to come to training?" and "How can we find out more about what skills and knowledge volunteers have or are willing to learn?"


What They're Thinking in Minnesota - Seven audio interviews with participants at the 2013 conference of the Minnesota Association for Volunteer Administration (MAVA) about the importance of professional associations and taking time to learn.

New Issue to Launch on July 15th


Volume XIII, Issue 4 will open on July 15, but the contents of the current issue and all past issues remain available in the online Archives. The new content will include articles on: the emerging controversy (in several countries) about unpaid internships; a Training Design helping organizations to identify legitimate intern position descriptions; how a major national organization is developing a strategic plan for volunteer involvement; a review of Web resources on volunteering, wellbeing and social capital...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.  

Susan's Tip
of the Month


We're always looking for ways to raise awareness about the scope and impact of volunteering. As with anything else, personalizing a subject makes a greater impression. So I want to make the case for nametags as an educational tool.


Every conference gives out name badges of some sort, yet these are often totally non-informative (not to mention unreadable with small print and long neckbands lowering the tags to our navels). Less formal  "hello, my name is" sticky tags or name tents appear at smaller meetings, without much more data than a scribbled first name.


Whenever possible, consider adding some information on nametags to be discussion starters. For example, wouldn't you want to know how someone might answer:

  • What was the very first thing you remember doing as a volunteer?
  • What was something you did last week as a volunteer?

You could ask either of these of anyone to respond about volunteering anywhere, or you can limit the answers to volunteering in your organization.  


Other topics might be: 

  • What was the most fun you had through volunteering?
  • Name 3 things you learned through volunteer work.
  • What does your favorite movie star volunteer or raise money for?

You get the idea. If the meeting is of people who think they know one another well - and usually don't even wear nametags with each other - skip the names but keep the tags and answer a different question at each meeting! 


If you are convening both volunteers and paid staff together, you might ask volunteers to put on their nametags what they currently do for pay in the work world (or did before they retired) and have the employees write in what they do as volunteers on their own time. Both sets of answers might be surprising. 


Making It Happen 


As a practical matter, you can either ask one or two questions when people register or RSVP for the event or meeting and then prepare the nametags with their responses before they arrive on site, or you can post a sign at check-in with the key questions and ask people to handwrite their answers onto the nametags right there. 


A variation that I love to suggest but rarely see implemented is getting meeting goers with many professional credentials to list all their formal "identities" and then (ideally in another color) add one more line to reveal what they are doing as a volunteer in their private lives. Discovering that a CEO is a youth sports coach or an IT specialist is a volunteer firefighter is priceless - and insightful - information to counteract stereotypes of who volunteers and for what.  

This Quick Tip comes from
Susan J. Ellis, President of Energize, Inc. 


Want more of
Susan's Wisdom? 

Read her books. You'll find them in our bookstore.


If you missed our last newsletter, you will find our newsletter archive here 

Material may be re-posted or printed without additional permission, provided credit is given to Energize, Inc., and our Web site address is included: 


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