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Volunteer Management Update
October 2013
October Hot Topic


Never assume people know you are looking for volunteers. Make sure that you are really issuing an invitation to become a volunteer to the people in greatest proximity to you. Susan explains how...  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. 

Celebrate Leaders of Volunteers


November 5th is International Volunteer Managers Day (IVMDay)!


Each year the number of organizations supporting IVMDay grows. The official Web site lists supporters in dozens of countries, from the UK to Fiji, planning all sorts of interesting activities.


IVMDay is an opportunity to say thank you to the people who create the opportunities for volunteers and support their efforts every day on the front lines. Just as important, IVMDay is a chance to educate others about our important work, which is why the international committee of organizers encourages the catch phrase "Education through Celebration" each year.


Annual IVMDay Thank-You Card from Energize 
Energize, Inc. has started an annual tradition of creating an electronic thank-you card ready to send to your colleagues in volunteer management. See the banners and posters area of the IVMDay site for last year's edition - as well as other colorful materials and logos free to download.


Look to our November Update or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn for our release of the 2013 IVMDay Thank-You Card.

Calling All Meeting Planners!


Imagine a meeting of leaders of volunteers where...


1. Together, your participants view a 60-minute online presentation on a fundamental volunteer management topic...created and presented by a recognized expert trainer in our field.


2. You run small group exercises in pauses during the seminar and members talk with each other about key issues raised. (Don't worry, we'll provide you with a Discussion Guide!)


3. If you wish, Susan or another trainer then joins your meeting LIVE via Skype for a Q&A session!


And the best part is how easy and affordable it is to make this your meeting reality! (Anywhere in the world, too)


 In response to many requests from DOVIAs and other professional associations to access the training modules developed for the Everyone ReadyŽ Online Volunteer Management Training Program, we now have a way you can do it! (You're welcome, program committees!). Download more information and get your session planned today!

What's New in e-Volunteerism


Volume XIII, Issue 4 of e-Volunteerism, our international, subscription-based journal for informing and challenging leaders of volunteers, launched in mid-July and will run through mid-October. Watch for a new issue on October 15th.


Free Access this Month:


From the Archives 


Working with Senior Leadership (Volume VI, Issue 4, July 2006) Suzanne Lawson writes about how managers of volunteer resources can build alliances with the senior leadership. Having been on both sides of this partnership, she has many insights that continue to resonate.


Current Points of View 


The Sparking Controversy about Volunteer Internships, in which Susan Ellis and Rob Jackson examine the rapidly growing debate - around the world - about whether unpaid internships (particularly those that are full-time) exploit young people and sidestep labor laws. Become informed and follow the many links to current media stories provided (including ones in which unpaid interns have successfully sued for back pay).


You have only 2 weeks left to contribute to
Help Us Create a Volunteer Word Cloud!




What's Ahead in the New Issue


Volume XIV, Issue 1 will launch on October 15. Don't miss articles on: the state of volunteer centers today around the world; what makes celebrity volunteers tick; a unique model of hospital volunteering in Australia; Web resources on pet therapy with volunteer support; and more! As always, the contents of the current issue will remain accessible to all subscribers through the online Archives of the journal.


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 thirteen previous volume years.

Susan's Tip
of the Month


Is it is easier to recruit a volunteer for front-line, hands-on work than for a leadership position such as team captain, advisory council, or committee chair (let alone serve on a board of directors)? How can you help volunteers to increase their involvement over time and grow comfortable taking on more responsibilities and even authority?


First, consider what may not be fun for volunteers in leadership roles:

  • Attendance at meetings - maybe lots of long meetings, and not always productive ones.
  • Willingness to stick their necks out and take risks on behalf of the project.
  • Making difficult choices and then facing scrutiny (and maybe criticism) from their colleagues and friends about these decisions.

Maybe volunteers are right if they assume this is a major commitment! So the key is to articulate what the benefits of service at the leadership level are, and then to identify the type of people who would find satisfaction in those. For example:

  • The intellectual challenge of developing strategies to help the community.
  • Opportunity to interact with other organization leaders.
  • Being at the forefront of positive change and action.
  • Doing something with long-term implications.

Recruiting People Who Are Already Leaders


One misconception is that people in business, especially in big corporations, are always "leaders." Of course some corporate executives have strong leadership skills, but many have simply risen to a level of authority and are enforcing the decisions of a small circle of others at the very top. Also, community leadership requires consensus-building, diplomacy, and other characteristics that may not be as highly prized in the business world. So it's fine to look to successful business people as possible leadership volunteers, just be sure to double check your assumptions with each individual.


Developing New Leaders


Accept the challenge of "grooming" front-line volunteers into new leaders. This starts by noticing who has the potential to develop. Think of the process in the following stages:


1. The volunteer does an assignment well and you notice. S/he shows initiative, does something above and beyond what you expected, or seems able to help others do better or to work together as a team.


2. Genuinely praise the extra effort, so that the volunteer understands what you value and feels good about contributing in this way.


3. Invite the volunteer to do something specific requiring additional commitment but giving the opportunity to learn additional skills: acting as a team leader for a project, being a trainer of new volunteers, or writing a report about the project. Offer whatever support the person might need to succeed and then praise that accomplishment, too.


4. Ask the volunteer to participate in a planning or evaluation session - something that requires the person to speak out, share opinions, and interact with others. This might lead to service on a committee or task force - a group that meets for a short time with a specific purpose.


Talk honestly with the volunteer about your hopes for her or his development and longer term commitment to your cause. This isn't a secret process in which you manipulate someone into the trap of long-term service! If the person really is not comfortable - or simply prefers less demanding volunteering - that's OK. But sometimes all it takes is convincing a prospective leader that you really think she or he has the right stuff to do the job well.


By allowing each volunteer to take small steps towards involvement as a leader, and be reinforced with skill-building and success at each level, you will cultivate a pool of committed - and competent - individuals

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 

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