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Volunteer Management Update
July 2014
July Hot Topic



Innovative volunteer roles or volunteer management techniques sound wonderful when presented, but how many of these new ideas are tested, improved, and assimilated into daily agency operations? Let's do a reality check together on what's happening in real life.

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. 

New Book Recognized


We are pleased to share the news that our newest publication, The Last Virtual Volunteering Guidebook: Fully Integrating Online Service into Volunteer Involvement, has been announced as one of three finalists for the prestigious 2014 Terry McAdam Book Award presented by the Alliance for Nonprofit Management. The winner will be announced at the Alliance's annual conference, held this year in Austin, TX, on September 17-19.

Three Specialized Resources

Any time a question arises involving law, risk, or insurance in nonprofits and with volunteers, we have three go-to resources. Check them out.  For our international colleagues: While of course the information on these sites is all about American law, the principles and approaches are often quite universal. At a minimum, you might learn how to frame a question for a legal issue in your country. 



Nonprofit Issues
is a national Web newsletter of "Nonprofit Law You Need To Know." Written for nonprofit executives and their advisors by attorney Don Kramer, Nonprofit Issues provides clear, concise and comprehensive coverage of real issues that affect nonprofits every day. Sign up for the free weekly Q&A e-mail and browse the article archives for nuggets of practical advice, often directly about board and other volunteer involvement. 



The Nonprofit Risk Management Center offers a wealth of information on many subjects and has an  entire section of its Web site on Volunteer Risk Management.  



Volunteers Insurance Service (VISŪ) of CIMA has been offering low-cost coverage of volunteers for 40+ years. Its director, William Henry, writes a blog - Volunteer Insure -- and is usually willing to answer insurance-related questions.

What's New in e-Volunteerism?


Volume XIV, Issue 3 of e-Volunteerism,our international, subscription-based journal for informing and challenging leaders of volunteers, launched in mid-April and will run through mid-July. This special theme issue focused entirely on the role and future of Volunteer Centers around the world. On July 15, a brand new issue begins (see below).


Free Access this Month:


From the Archives

Volunteers Are Not a "Program" (Volume VI, Issue 3, April 2006) This is a Voices from the Past article in which we reprint something first published in 1978 in the journal Volunteer Administration. Note how little has changed in 35 years in the challenge of gaining legitimacy and agency acceptance for volunteer contributions.


From the Current Issue

Points of View

author images The Competitive Edge: Tension between Volunteer Centers and Volunteer Resources Managers and How to Change It - Susan J. Ellis and Rob Jackson examine a common problem rarely addressed directly: unintended but real competition between Volunteer Centers and those they serve - and how to change the dynamics.



Subscriber Access Only:

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


New Postings Since the Last Update

Measuring Impact and Outcomes at Volunteer Centers: A Study of the HandsOn Network - This Research to Practice article by Laurie Mook assesses an academic study of Volunteer Centers and HandsOn affiliate centers in the United States 



New Issue to Go Live on July 15th
All of the articles in the current issue will of course continue to be available in the journal archives when Volume XIV, Issue 4 opens on July 15th. Content coming up: a year-later follow-up on the major changes in volunteer management at The National Trust in the UK; commentary on the challenges of educating senior managers; an article on applying paid job design theory to volunteer work development; a Training Design on "The Art of Hosting and Harvesting Conversations That Matter"; a look at Web resources on volunteers in prisons and correctional services; and 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 thirteen previous volume years.

Susan's Tip
of the Month


This month I want to share a potpourri of unrelated information with the common denominator of making life easier for a busy leader of volunteers. You may know about most of these, but since I became aware of them often by accident, I decided to pass them on.

Best of all, they are all FREE! Some are completely free while others offer a limited-use version for free, which in many cases will be enough for your needs. For example, you can create unlimited free surveys on SurveyMonkey if you can keep them to 10 questions and have fewer than 100 responders each time.

1. Adobe Reader Read Out Loud Function
Built into the ubiquitous and free PDF reader from Adobe is an amazing function they ought to tell everyone about, but don't. Click on View and scroll to "Read Out Loud." Voila! The program will read either the current page or the entire document. What a great service to people with visual impairments or for anyone who prefers to listen rather than read. The voice and tone are not as professionally crafted as a commercial audio book, but they are pretty accurate and ok to listen to.

2. Google Search Features
You may use other search engines, but Google remains the most popular. Over time it has refined its features to save lots of time for common functions. For example, did you know that you can enter an airline and flight number - and nothing else - in the search bar and you'll get its current status? Google summarizes the most popular short cuts here.

3. Doodle
This nifty site lets you find the best day and time a group of people can meet in person or talk remotely. It's easy and it works.

4. LiveMinutes
It's for meeting and working on things simultaneously, in real-time, with up to 20 people, making it easy to share documents or videos, and annotate them; everything you do is recorded (even the audio) for a report that goes to everyone who attended. (Note: I have heard about this, but not used it myself.)

5. YouTube Channels
If you are already posting videos to YouTube for volunteers or for the public, you probably have created your own "channel." But did you realize that channels allow you to aggregate videos you like into one spot? This means that even if you never post your own video, you can still search for useful videos from others relevant to training volunteers, for example, and place them in your channel archive. Then you can invite anyone to go to your channel and browse through your selected videos.

6. Go Where Teachers Go
Think about it. Volunteer resources managers and school teachers have lots of things in common when it comes to having to orient and train volunteers/students of varying learning levels about many different subjects. And teachers rarely have time or money to deal with tricky software. Educator sites often offer tools such as free graphics and templates that can be fun for any age group. Look at this blog post and many apps it reviews for examples: "The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education In 2014 - So Far" - such as slidebean,a free tool for creating online slideshows that's easier than PowerPoint.

7. Cyber Deputies
Frequent readers of mine will know that I often recommend recruiting "cyber deputies" as your assistants: volunteers who love exploring the online world and can do research and posting for you. It's impossible to keep up with everything new (nor is everything new worth learning about), but there are often blogs or articles in respected online magazines that compile lists of favorite online tools. For example, PC News runs features such as "The Best Free Web Apps of 2013" describing 180 Web apps in various categories! Challenge your cyber deputies - and all volunteers as well as paid staff - to seek out useful online tools and let everyone else know what they find. 

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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