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Volunteer Management Update
March 2014
March Hot Topic


A true story of informal volunteering raises important questions: Can volunteer resources managers ever capture and build on the ways that some people naturally help others? What's our role in fostering and supporting self-help and mutual aid? How do we react to a new service idea from a volunteer? 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. 

Online Bookstore


Last month we were thrilled to announce the publication of The Last Virtual Volunteering Guidebook by Jayne Cravens and Susan J. Ellis. It's available in paperback and as an e-book (PDF) from the Energize Online Bookstore.


Now, other e-book editions can be purchased for your favorite e-reading app, including Kindle, Nook, Google Play Books, and soon iBooks. If you prefer to own the PDF, but like to read on an eReader, no problem. Go to the documentation or online FAQs for your device and look for instructions on transferring PDF files to your machine. In some cases, it's as easy as e-mailing it to yourself. Here are instructions for some of the most used devices:


Kindle: Send PDF to Kindle by E-mail
Nook: How do I transfer my personal files to my NOOK? (Scroll to #12 under "Library")
iBooks: Viewing PDFs on iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch

Keep Informed


In keeping with the theme of virtual volunteering, information such as the URLs of the organizations mentioned in the book - which change constantly - has been placed online for easier updating. The Virtual Volunteering Wiki is where you will find what normally would have been a static book appendix. But this free Wiki has much more to offer, too. It's where Jayne and Susan have placed:

  • Latest news on virtual volunteering
  • The history and basics of virtual volunteering
  • Resources influencing the book
  • Hints on tech tools

Throughout the site are forms for visitors to use to submit their own information about great online service projects, media news items, and anything of value to the community wanting to nurture virtual volunteering.


We have also started a new Virtual Volunteering group on LinkedIn for discussion of practical ideas related to doing or managing online service. There are already 349 members, which delights us! If you are on LinkedIn, participation in this group is open at no charge. Join us!

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 in mid-January and will run through mid-April.


Free Access this Month:


From the Archives 


Mini-Max: Ivan's Game with a Purpose
Ivan Scheier loved finding ways to get people to interact with each other, and he developed many group exercises for trainers or group leaders. MINI-MAX was one of his early concepts and he refined it repeatedly over 30 years.


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)


A World of Volunteering by Global Corporations - Go Along the Web with Arnie Wickens and penetrate the glossy Web sites of various global corporations to see what they reveal about their volunteer or service programs.


Applying Adult Learning Principles to Enhance Volunteer Training - New Training Designs Editor Karin Davis explains how the study of adult learning, or andragogy, can help raise the level of volunteer training sessions.


Still Ahead in this Issue


Look for a review of a study that analyzes the impact of service learning on the community partner, and an article calling 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


So many people ask me whether there is a distinction between the English words "volunteerism" and "voluntarism" that I have written up my answer. Here it is:


"Voluntarism" (the older term) refers to everything voluntary. In the United States this includes, for example, religion. It certainly encompasses the entire "voluntary sector," but "voluntary" in the "voluntarism" context means not mandated by law (as government is). Many voluntary sector (nonprofit) agencies have a volunteer board because that is a legal requirement, but may not involve volunteers in direct service in any way. There are subjects within "voluntarism" that have nothing to do with volunteers: things like rules of accounting; proposal writing; compensation law.


"Volunteerism" was actually coined by Harriet Naylor while she was with the old Department of Health, Education and Welfare, and used for the first time in an organizational name by Ivan Scheier in the 1970's: The National Information Center for Volunteerism (NICOV). Don't let the fact that we know who invented the term deter you from taking it seriously. In the same time period someone, somewhere coined words like cyberspace, byte, nerd, and maybe 1000 others!


At any rate, "volunteerism" is a more focused term that speaks to anything relevant to volunteers and volunteering. Some people say it refers to the activity, while voluntarism speaks to the nonprofit setting. But the most important point, for me, is that "volunteerism" encompasses volunteering regardless of setting. Therefore, it allows volunteering with government agencies at all levels to be included, and also covers corporate employee volunteering. Since government-related volunteering is so pervasive (think schools, libraries, parks, etc., etc.), this is not an insignificant point.


The American military confuses us even more. I once told an audience of generals at the U.S. War College that they didn't have a "Volunteer Army," they have a "Voluntary Army," as in "non-draft." Just one more confusion in the fascinating world of volunteerism.


When we use "volunteerism," we can communicate that we are speaking about issues relevant to our work: the actions necessary to plan for, recruit, encourage, and generally support volunteers in their important efforts. So it is an important distinction and I therefore recommend that you use "volunteerism" in your work.


There is quite a bit of controversy about terminology in our field, which we've tried to document in the subject area Definitions of "Volunteer" in our online resource library. Take a look.

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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