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Volunteer Management Update
March 2015
March Hot Topic

Do you think that volunteers (of any kind) would be interested in an online forum community, based on their shared identity as volunteers? Dan Berman, founder of VolunteerTalk.org, and Susan debate this question and invite you to weigh in - and to visit his beta site. 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 Discover
We have been delighted at the early reaction to our redesigned Web site and thank those of you who have sent us compliments. 
Of course we're happy to have a lovely new look, but it's the content of which we are most proud. There is so much information on the site that few visitors realize what's there for them to access. So periodically we'll draw attention to some of the things you can find.
  • Definitions of "Volunteer" - All sorts of discussion about the vocabulary of our field
  • Professions Donating Their Skills - An amazing range of professional associations organizing formal volunteer initiatives, some of which will surprise you and perhaps suggest some new places to recruit volunteers
  • Awards for Volunteers - Where we list honorary and cash awards, scholarships, and other honors designed to recognize volunteer achievement
  • Quotations - Many of you come to our site for ideas to use in speeches to and about volunteers. We also offer other "quotables," including Songs!
  • Monthly Updates Archive - Go to this page to see earlier editions of this Update, especially for Susan's Tip of the Month, going back to 2008
  • Book Buzz Archive - Are you signed up for the free Book Buzz to receive e-mails with new book announcements, book reviews, special offers and more? Visit the Archive and sign up in the Bookstore.

As always, we need YOU to help us learn about more or new resources, as well as fill in any information that's missing or inaccurate.  There's a link to a submission form on every page of the site. Thank you!  

Online Bookstore
Are you hosting an upcoming in-house training or professional development session and need to purchase 10 or more copies of a single title from our Online Bookstore? It may benefit you to pick up the phone or shoot us an email and ask about our multiple copy discounts. These are available both for printed books and e-books. Please don't wait to the last minute; give us at least 5 business days to be able to serve you.

For printed books published by Energize, we offer the following discounts:

10-25 books 10%

26-50 books 20%

51-75 books 25%

76-100 books 30%

100+ books 35%

Shipping costs are additional.

For e-books, please contact us for a price quote. The number of copies you have purchased will be noted in the master copy of the file we send you.

For books for sale in our store but produced by other publishers, we'd be glad to contact the publisher to see if they would approve a discount.

Shipping Discounts
Furthermore, it's worth contacting us for any purchase of 5 or more books to see if a bulk shipping cost would be cheaper than the rate quoted online. Our online shipping calculation is automated, and a human touch could make all the difference!

What's New in e-Volunteerism?


Volume XV, Issue 2 of e-Volunteerism, our international, subscription-based journal for informing and challenging leaders of volunteers, will run through mid-April.   


Free Access this Month:

From the Archives


Current Models of Certification: A World Tour (XII, 1, 2011) - A unique, around-the-world tour of credentialing of volunteer management practitioners. Colleagues from Australia, England, Germany, New Zealand, North America, Scotland and the United States describe how certification has evolved in their respective countries.  



From the Current Issue


"Is There a Template I Can Use? " and Other Questions Asked Too Often  - Overworked volunteer resources managers often look at what others seem to be doing successfully and then use those practices or templates for their needs. Susan J. Ellis and Rob Jackson caution against this one-size-fits-all approach and offer ways to customize rather than copy available models. 



Subscriber Access Only:

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


New Postings Since the Last Update

An Online Network Empowering Offline Action: Soroptimist's New Volunteer Model - Soroptimist International of the Americas' Executive Director Elizabeth Lucas and Senior Director of Membership Marketing Darlene Friedman explain their innovative online initiative to meet the membership challenges facing all volunteer and member-based organizations.

 Resources for Managing Volunteers in Museums - In this Along the Web feature, Arnie Wickens explores a range of recent resources that have been developed either by or on behalf of museum volunteer programs - yet relevant to many different settings.


Still to Come in this Issue
The remaining articles to be posted in March are a review of a study on SROI (social return on investment) for volunteering,  and tips to trainers on how to help learners learn from each other. 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.

Susan's Tip
of the Month
We all know that the 1950s home with a mother and father (married to each other) and two children (theirs) is far from the realities of our era, when the term "family" has expanded to encompass all sorts of permutations of relationships. Yet, there has been quite a bit of attention in the past decade to the concept of "family volunteering," through which two or more relatives, usually intergenerational, contribute their time and talents together.

Benefits to the Organization

Collectively, a family group can work as a team, bringing many hands to a task. If children or teenagers are part of the mix, the related adults are there to assure the organization that the youngsters will be supervised. So this is a great way to bring young people into a setting, injecting energy and fun into projects.

If a family with several members commits to a long-term task or adopts a specific shift, client, or project, there is a greater chance of dependability and consistency, since not every member of the family needs to show up each time, so long as someone from the family maintains the regular commitment.


Benefits to the Family

In today's hectic, harried world, most families struggle to find "quality time" with each other. Traditional volunteer recruitment only makes things worse by targeting individual adults and asking them to spend even more time away from home. By recruiting the whole family, an organization is offering them a special opportunity to designate time for a collective activity - while also doing good in the community.

Further, volunteering can give each member of the family the chance to shine as an individual as well as to cooperate as a team. And that brings the benefit of showing each other something rarely seen by staying home: how family members behave in public and are viewed by others. Adults don't often observe their children outside of play or school, and seldom in a situation in which they are expected to use their skills for an external goal. Conversely, few children get to see their adult relatives from a new perspective; not as mom, uncle, or grandpa, but as a colleague.

Special Opportunities

Consider some of the following types of modern families who might be recruited as volunteers if the assignments offered match their needs.

Couples without children may actually welcome the opportunity to interact with children who need some sort of service. In some cases, childless couples (or individuals) actually love children and are sorry that they do not have any of their own. This makes them more interested in and patient with the children of others! Newer or younger couples may appreciate the chance to test themselves around children and see how they like the interaction, or observe each other as potential parents. Why ask couples with children of their own to leave those youngsters at home to go out to volunteer with other children? Go right to those for whom this doesn't feel like a conflict of interest.

Couples, single parents, or guardians with children of any age might be especially interested in volunteering to work with children of different ages. Young boys and girls get a chance to work with teenagers, or vice versa. A good time to do this might be when an older child departs for college, leaving the younger ones without that "big brother" or "big sister." For single parents, the volunteer opportunity is also a way to spend time with other adults, too - something which they might value but rarely do. So a "single parent shift" in which several similar families are invited to volunteer together might be popular. This idea might also appeal to the growing family category of grandparents raising grandchildren.

Volunteering can be an important chance for other extended family members to interact with nieces and nephews, cousins, godchildren - whoever is important to them but they don't see as often as they'd like. Why not schedule shared community service time and get to know one another in new ways? It's often overlooked that older siblings, particularly if there is a big age gap between them, may be interested in pairing with their younger siblings.

Volunteering can be extremely powerful when divorce turns the non-custodial parent into a "visitor" in his or her children's lives. It's forced and ultimately unappealing to look for ways to play together during a visit. Perhaps sharing a volunteer activity that they've all chosen and enjoy would offer a way for this broken unit to share a common project or cause, and keep learning about each other. Doing intentional outreach to such non-custodial parents might be really effective for the right organization.

With remarriage and blended families, adults can struggle with learning how to step parent as much as children find themselves coping with a step parent, step siblings, and perhaps half siblings. Again, the right volunteer opportunity can introduce all the new family members to each other through a common project. It's team building while serving others.

Just Ask 

Sometimes all that's needed is to drop the seed of the idea. Mention to volunteers already on board that perhaps they'd like more time with a relative or two (or best friend, for that matter). Would they want to invite their teenage son, granddaughter, cousin, uncle, or sister to join them in this cause they clearly care about? They may only have to ask.



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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