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Volunteer Management Update
November 2014
November Hot Topic

What are the consequences for volunteers and everyone else when the job of volunteer resources manager is eliminated or drastically changed? 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. 

An Event for You


We raise a toast to all you do, every day, to engage and coordinate volunteers!

That's what International Volunteer Managers Day is all about. On November 5th send notes of appreciation to your colleagues.  Get your local professional network of volunteer resources to announce the day to the public. Get more ideas and lots of resources on the IVMDay site to use, free of charge, including posters and banners. And do report your local activities to the site to share with everyone.
Energize is unique in offering volunteer management resources from several countries all in one place - and available for instant download without shipping costs. Consider this variety of books, all written by authors from the United Kingdom:


A Toolkit for Volunteer Speed Matching

Think Speed Dating meets Volunteer Recruiting! One clever volunteer center outside of London produced this Toolkit for the perfect, fun and upbeat recruiting event.



Employee Volunteering: The Guide
How the private, public and voluntary sectors can benefit from employee volunteering, with clear, practical advice on setting up employee volunteering programs.



The A-Z of Volunteering and Asylum:
A Handbook for Managers

Refugees and asylum-seekers are potential new volunteers in England and other countries. Learn how to reach out successfully to involve this growing population for mutual benefits.


Branch Networks in the 21st Century: A Handbook
Helps those in national or large organizations to think about how branch or regional offices can strengthen, support, and extend their reach. 




Volunteering and the Test of Time
Illuminates the ways that the political and social context in which volunteering operates has changed from the 1990s to the present.




You Cannot Be Serious
Packed with practical information, stories, tools and resources, this guide provides support and advice for people committed to making their organizations more socially inclusive and including individuals with mental health problems as volunteers.

What's New in e-Volunteerism?


Volume XV, Issue 1 of e-Volunteerism, our international, subscription-based journal for informing and challenging leaders of volunteers, opened on 15 October and will run through mid-January.


Free Access this Month:


From the Current Issue


author images

"Incentivizing" Volunteering

Volunteer for four hours and get a free concert ticket. Volunteer for 100 hours and get a tax rebate. In their

Points of View feature article,Rob Jackson and Susan J. Ellis debate: Do we need to offer incentives to people to get them to volunteer?




Subscriber Access Only:

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


New Postings Since the Last Update


From the Horse's Mouth: the Past, Present, and Future of Online Volunteer Recruiting

VolunteerMatch's Shari Tishman considers the rapidly evolving practice of recruiting volunteers online. What's next?



John Ramsey - In His Own Words

We lost an influential voice in the development of volunteer management as a profession in the United Kingdom when John Ramsey died in September. We dedicate this Voices feature as a tribute to his inspirational writing.



The Health Benefits of Volunteering Among Older Adults: Implications for Volunteer Management

Research to Practice editor, Laurie Mook, reviews this study and shares its list of related resources.



Still to Come in this Issue
e-Volunteerism has started its fifteenth volume year! Readers can look forward to upcoming articles this quarter: an overview of the history and future of International Volunteer Managers Day; a great introduction to "how an Eagle Scout and 38 goats volunteered to make a campground safe from poison ivy"; a Training Design with simple ideas for making use of video as a training tool (nothing fancy!); and a review of "clicktivism." As always, the articles in all past issues remain accessible (and open to reader comments) in the online Archives.

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 14 previous volume years.

One of our marketing and PR specialist's will help evaluate your present operations, make recommendations for improvements, and you grow your business.
Find a specialist in your area.

Susan's Tip
of the Month

One tried-and-true technique for bringing new volunteers on board is the "buddy system," asking an experienced volunteer to guide a newcomer at the start of service. In principle, this is a great idea, both to personalize orientation for the newbie and to give some recognition to the veteran. To make the process most effective, however, take some time to define what you want the buddies to do together, including some optional ideas for making their short partnership really useful. 

Consider designing a badge of some sort for the two to wear during their time together. Maybe something like "Trainee" and "Tour Guide." This formalizes the relationship and also lets everyone else know that the buddy orientation process is going on. Have them take a "selfie" and print it out for the volunteer office bulletin board. 


For the Experienced Volunteers

Give them the newcomer's position description so that the two can focus on what the volunteer will actually be doing - don't assume they both know exactly. Also share some background on the new volunteer to break the ice in getting acquainted. If you have anything special you want the newcomer to learn about, say so!

Do a mental walk-through with the veteran, considering the sequence of things that might be helpful in welcoming someone or being alert to possible issues needing attention. For example:
  • Recommend how much time the buddies should spend together on day 1, doing what. Shadowing the veteran? Taking a detailed tour of the facility? Meeting other volunteers and staff on the same shift?
  • Talk about how to end day 1. Reflection? Debriefing?
  • Do you want the two to exchange phone numbers or e-mail addresses for possible questions/answers afterwards or before the second shift?
  • Outline what the buddy role is on day 2. This is not necessarily as obvious as the things that might be done on day 1. What about on day 3?
  • What to do if they have any negative experience with the newcomer or if any concerns surface that the person might not be a good match for the position.
  • How many "formal" buddy connections should happen before the relationship ends? This is from your point of view - they can, of course, remain friends by choice!
  • Do you want some sort of brief report afterwards?
For the New Volunteers

Obviously you also need to prepare the newcomers for the buddy relationship. What can they can expect in terms of the process, time frame, etc.? Then share some information about the assigned buddy and his/her experience with the organization. Clarify:
  • Questions they can (and maybe should) ask of their buddies - versus issues they might instead come back to you about.
  • What to do if their buddy isn't helping.
  • What to do if they begin to feel they chose the wrong assignment.
  • Do you want some sort of brief report afterwards?

A Definite End Point

When you will you consider the buddy relationship to be over and how will that be communicated? Don't let it just peter out over time. End the process well and everyone benefits.

The Girl Scouts have the tradition of "flying up" when a girl moves from one program stage to another. That's a lovely idea that can work well in volunteer management. At some point - whether by the end of the first day or after two months of training - the completely new volunteer will feel acclimated (and, you hope, welcomed). Why not acknowledge that as a milestone?

Take back those buddy badges and thank both volunteers for participating. Formally welcome the new volunteer to the ranks.

If all this seems like a lot of formality, it really isn't. It's a call to think through what you want, explain it consistently to everyone, and make sure it does what you want it to.

P.S.: Although buddy systems are common when both volunteers work onsite in a facility together, the concept can also work for remote volunteers in the field or working online. The interactions will be by phone, e-mail, or video call, but the principles and benefits still apply.


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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