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Volunteer Management Update
February 2014
February Hot Topic


We know that volunteers are not "free," but we do not always acknowledge what it costs them to give their time or who else may be aiding the volunteer with other financial support. 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. 

Resources to Sample


Energize added a category for blogs to our Web site's professional directory several years ago and the list of quality writing by colleagues has continued to grow. Here are some of our favorites (just some!) that update frequently:

  • Engaging Volunteers - Written by members of the VolunteerMatch team and other experts in the volunteering community
  • Rob Jackson Consulting Blog - The informed musings of UK colleague Rob Jackson on volunteer management issues
  • Realizing Your Worth - Thoughts on corporate social responsibility and corporate volunteering by Canadian Chris Jarvis
  • Management4Volunteers Blog - By Sue Hine in New Zealand, with the tag line: "Great volunteer programmes do not fall out of the sky: it is good management practice that makes them even better."
  • Jayne Cravens Blog - One of the field's first blogs, offering information and insight on volunteerism, nonprofit development, and more
  • Associations Now (formerly Acronym) - From the American Society of Association Executives comes a range of ideas about leading all-volunteer membership organizations
  • Church Volunteer Blog - Daily tips on working with volunteers in churches -- but very applicable to any setting
  • From the Field - "Conversations on Volunteer Management" produced by Volunteer Maine
  • Volunteer Plain Talk - Meridian Swift provides "a place where volunteer managers can talk."
  • Thoughtful Thursdays from  VMmovement on ivo.org, the British site that fosters such professional exchange.

To see all the blogs we've found so far (including many related to, but not necessarily totally focused on, volunteerism), click here. We would love to learn about your favorite blogs and add them to the list on our site. Here's the online form making it easy to tell us all about them.

Online Bookstore

Advantages of e-Books in PDF

With our newest publication, The Last Virtual Volunteering Guidebook, Energize is joining the band wagon and will be offering the new book on several common e-book platforms (Kindle, Nook, Google Play Books, and more). And, we'll continue to offer a traditional PDF version in our Online Bookstore.


These days, why would someone prefer a book in PDF? Our returning customers use PDF e-books in the following ways:

  • Searching for terms, ideas, and specific help, using the search function (Ctrl+F) in Adobe Reader or Acrobat.
  • Making notes and annotations using Comments in Adobe Reader or Acrobat.
  • Copying selections of text and pasting into a document for use in trainings (with appropriate citations, of course).
  • Printing desired pages such as sample policies, worksheets, and forms by selecting a specific page range to print.
  • Printing one copy of the book for their own use or for lending to a friend/colleague.
  • Uploading the PDF to their Kindle, Nook, or e-Reader for taking the PDF on the go. (See the Help section for your favorite e-book reader on how to upload PDF files.)
  • Reading the PDF on their tablet, laptop, or desktop computer using Adobe Reader, Acrobat, or Digital Editions.
  • Obtaining excellent volunteer management resources from international, indie-, and self-publishers who are unable to offer their books on the major e-book platforms.

Energize will continue to research the best ways to read and use our resources. If PDF is convenient for you, go for it! Still partial to print? No worries; we've got you covered with Energize printed books.

What's New in e-Volunteerism?


Volume XIV, Issue 2 of e-Volunteerism, our international, subscription-based journal for informing and challenging leaders of volunteers, launched on January 15th. Now available are these articles:


Free Access this Month:


From the Current Issue 


Points of View 

Isolation Is Not an Option
Susan Ellis and Rob Jackson explore the question: are we as a field effectively networking and collaborating with the tools available to us today? Despite enormous technological progress in global communication, many volunteer resources managers express continuing feelings of isolation in their work.


New Postings Since the Last Update:


Subscriber Access Only:

(Subscribe for a full year or 48-hour access)


The Volunteer Program Assessment: Promoting Nonprofit Organizational Effectiveness
- Four authors from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte provide an overview of their Volunteer Program Assessment (VPA) that assigns graduate students and faculty to consultations with volunteer resources managers at no cost.


Dream Big: Developing Creative and Effective Volunteer Positions through Pilot Programming - Kathryn Berry Carter describes how she created an innovative volunteer respite program at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.


The No-Apologies Budget: How to Justify the Financial Support a Volunteer Program Deserves - This article, written 30 years ago by G. Neil Karn, remains a must-read.


Still Ahead in this Issue


Look for articles on applying adult learning principles to designing volunteer training; a tour Along the Web of workplace volunteering by global corporations; a study that analyzes the impact of service learning on the community partner; and a call for more humor and the need for laughter in volunteering. Don't miss out!


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


Are you counting all the volunteer support your organization receives? Are you sure? In the course of a year, it is common for agencies to benefit from what might be called "bootleg" (hidden) volunteers who come to the agency in a roundabout way, bypassing the procedures of the volunteer resources office. For example:

  • Graduate students doing professional internships, if university faculty independently contact the relevant department heads directly. Those managers see supporting "interns" as a professional obligation and may resist treating them as "volunteers."
  • The individual members of groups who help the organization seasonally, such as at holiday events or for garden clean-ups. The group's service is treated as a special visit and the individual members are often not differentiated from the collective action.
  • Clergy who visit under various types of chaplaincy programs, even if they, in turn, recruit others from their congregation to provide additional personal services. This is most often viewed as service to the client, rather than as service to the organization.
  • Children of staff and board members who may be brought to the agency by their parents to "help out" after school or during long school holidays (usually doing whatever menial jobs mom or dad can find). Even more frequent is bringing along one's family members (of any age) to help at a special event.
  • Advisers or consultants with special expertise who donate their professional services, generally directly to the board of directors or to the executive staff (and therefore never seen by the volunteer office).

It doesn't really matter if these time donors think of themselves as "volunteers," nor is it necessary to use that word to describe them. But here is what they have in common-with each other and with the more traditional concept of a volunteer. They:

  • Receive no financial remuneration from the agency for their services
  • Come to the facility for short periods of time on diverse schedules
  • Generally have no real understanding of how your organization functions prior to coming in to help
  • Need basic instructions about your facility to do their assignments properly

If none of this impresses you, consider this: They have the same risk potential as anyone else and, should anything happen to them or because of them during their time on site with you, your organization is liable.


Missed Opportunities


If the volunteer resources office is not tracking these time donors, who does keep track of them? Does anyone? Without a process for integrating such service providers into the organization, you don't screen them, have a record of their service, report their contributions, or even thank them properly. They miss out on support and appreciation, while the agency doesn't get all the benefits of such important community involvement.


Everyone who spends time, even briefly, in your organization becomes a potential ambassador for you. So it makes sense to pay attention to how all members of the community are treated when they are on site. This is a chance to orient and educate ever-widening spheres of influence, as different people come and go.


Here's a final thought about all those relatives of staff and volunteers who are dragged into helping at a special event. Slap a button on them that says "official volunteer," record their names, and give them some choice as to what they'd like to do (rather than being a go-fer for their relative). Afterwards, say thank you to them. You might end up recruiting some genuinely willing new volunteers!

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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