For leaders of volunteers and volunteer involvement, updates on news from the field, new volunteer management resources, and a monthly quick tip about successfully engaging volunteers.   
TopQTipUsing Photos: Images of Volunteering in Action

The following Quick Tip is from Susan's September 2015 Hot Topic, Pictures, Pictures, Pictures.  
Not that long ago, creating a collection of multi-purpose photographs required all sorts of camera equipment and a budget for developing and printing the shots. While it still takes creative skill to snap a great image or an expressive portrait, everyone can gather a large library of photographs and videos for many purposes. When getting ready for the new year or even soon-approaching holiday events, think of the following situations in which including images of volunteers might make an impression of what volunteering really looks like in your organization. Read more...
December Hot Topic
By Guest Writer, Jayne Cravens

Letting Fear Prevent Volunteer Involvement is Too Risky

This month guest writer Jayne Cravens challenges the belief that risk and fear should prohibit organizations from involving volunteers. Do volunteers really differ from paid staff when it comes to risk management? How can organizations build safety into volunteer engagement? 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.

News from the Field

International Volunteer Day
December 5
The worldwide celebration of International Volunteer Day (IVD) 2017 takes place the 5th of December. United Nations Volunteers explains that this year's theme "Volunteers Act First. Here. Everywhere." recognizes the positive solidarity of volunteers around the world who answer calls in times of crisis - helping to save lives today and supporting those who want to continue living their lives with dignity tomorrow. Follow events and excitement on Twitter with the hashtag #VolunteersActFirst.  
Spotlight on Resources

Tips from Colleagues About
Recognition Events

During the month of December, volunteer-involving organizations often hold recognition events, whether to celebrate International Volunteer Day (see above), celebrate holidays, or offer end-of-the-year thanks to volunteers. Over the years, leaders of volunteers have submitted their ideas for successful events and other recognition ideas. We've saved them! Visit the Recognition section in our A-Z Volunteer Management Library and look for "Tips from Colleagues." 
e-Volunteerism The Electronic Journal of the Volunteer Community
New Articles Available
Volume XVIII, Issue 1 
e-Volunteerism, our international, subscription-based journal, is now on it's 18th volume year. This issue will be live through January 14, 2018. As always, all previous journal issues are available to subscribers online in the Archives.

Free Access this Month 
From the Archives 

Religious Roots of Service
(Vol II, Issue 3 April 2002) - Lori Renner Larsson presents this information in the second volume of e-Volunteerism, Voices from the Past. No ancient holy book mentions "volunteering" by that name, but every religion in the world encourages charity, service to others, and personal risk for one's beliefs. This unique article compares the major religions of the world in terms of charity.
From the Current Issue
Dissecting the Controversy of Volunteer Projects for Asylum Seekers - I n this issue's  Points of View,  c o-authors Rob Jackson and Susan J. Ellis explore a newsworthy controversy about an initiative in Italy which offers migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, who are living in temporary reception centers, the option of spending some time doing community service work. On one side "many migrants have been more than happy to get involved in volunteer work" and on another "some critics see it as exploiting migrant labour or taking jobs from Italians."  The controversy is real and all sides have valid points.  

Subscriber Access Only  
( Subscribe for a full year or 48-hour access)
New Postings Since the Last Update

FaCE-ing and Managing Boundary Dilemmas in Volunteer Management -  In this e-Volunteerism feature, Debbie Mason Talbot and Ann M. Heesters use case studies to explore boundary-crossing situations and organizational responses to them. They review a tool called FaCE-IT to help analyze boundary dilemmas in organizations and methods to deal with them. As the authors write, "Volunteers who are made aware of the language of boundaries are better equipped to identify potential dangers and to make informed decisions about ethically troubling dilemmas."
In this issue's Along the Web, Faye C. Roberts explains why one organization's handbook cannot be merely duplicated and adopted by another organization or group. "This should be obvious," she notes, "but it isn't." Roberts explores the Internet for useful resources that explain the purpose and benefits of organization-specific handbooks and manuals. She provides examples of handbook outlines, templates, and content, and guides readers to some good examples of volunteer handbooks that are posted online. If someone in your organization is thinking of creating or revising a volunteer handbook, this Along the Web will be invaluable.
Still to Come in this Issue
Articles are still in process for this issue, including: tailoring your recruitment message; and leveraging volunteer resource practices to develop leaders. On January 15, Volume XVIII, Issue 2 will launch. As always, the articles from all past issues remain available in the journal 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 previous volume years.
Volunteer Recognition Ideas on Pinterest
Year after year, leaders of volunteers look for new, creative, and thoughtful ideas for showing volunteers how much their work is appreciated. Peruse our Pinterest Board "Ideas for Volunteer Recognition" for something you haven't tried before. Although it can be fun to rely on the old gift-with-a-"punny"-saying idea (and there are a LOT of cute ones so how can we resist), try looking for ways to focus on what volunteers have achieved, either individually or as a group, such as the Wall of Praise below.
QTipSusan's Quick Tip Continued...
Use Photos for What Purposes?


It's trite but true that a picture is worth a thousand words. Apart from making sure that you show diverse volunteers in terms of gender, age, race, and other characteristics, help a prospective volunteer to actually "picture" him- or herself in your setting. Take real photographs of volunteers at work, not obviously staged promotional shots. Show the office, recreation hall, patient room, or playing field where the service happens. Of course, you won't show client faces, but that doesn't mean you can't include the backs of people in a circle or someone's hands.

An archive of many different images - kept current - provides you with choices for what to print in a brochure, post to the volunteer pages of your organization's Web site, include with a press release, or add to any slide show for different purposes and audiences.


Forgo the usual "certificate" of appreciation and instead give each person a framed photograph of her- or himself doing the volunteer work for which you are giving thanks. What better way to show that "we see you"? Matte the photos with a printed message such as "you fit right in" or "thanks for all you've contributed here this year." Bet those pictures go on display in volunteers' homes, too, so be sure to include your organization's logo!

Even more useful are self-running slide shows at recognition events that offer the year-in-review, projected either as people gather for the party or during the event. Real pictures of real happenings with real volunteers and paid staff working together. Everyone gets excited to see whom they know in the shots and the cumulative effect is to educate all viewers (include the executives who attend the event) about the range of activities accomplished by volunteers during the last year.

Hint: Record the voices of the beneficiaries of volunteer service (clients, staff, visitors, etc.) making comments about the volunteers who helped them, and use those audio clips as background to the slide show.

One more idea: Catch people doing something right or good! Include the photo in a thank you note right after you witnessed the positive moment. Definitely do this for staff as well as for volunteers.

Special Events

It's become common at weddings and other events to scatter disposable cameras on dinner tables and encourage the guests to capture whatever images they think are fun, moving, or special in some way. Yes, there may still be a professional photographer taking formal pictures, but these spontaneous shots can save wonderful memories. Even without encouragement, these days it's impossible to stop guests from snapping photos on their phones...and almost immediately posting them to Facebook, Instagram, or some other picture-sharing platform. Use this to your organization's advantage and encourage such photography at any special event you sponsor.

Perhaps the most well-organized videotaping in our field is that of Volunteering Queensland TV on YouTube. Most of the many videos there are planned and produced by skilled volunteers.

Recruit and Train Volunteer Photographers

You do not have to be the one taking the pictures! Recruit volunteers onto a photography team. Some may want this to be their primary assignment, others may be willing to be on call for scheduled photo opps.

Although you want the team to capture candid photos, this does not mean they should be of poor quality! Before you add a volunteer to the photography team, do the same sort of screening as with any other volunteer position and make sure to ask to see samples of the applicant's pictures. If, after viewing these portfolios, you feel additional training is needed, schedule some with a professional photographer (another volunteer?) who can give your new team some basic "tricks of the trade." The goal is to have candid, quality photos that anyone would enjoy viewing!

This Quick Tip comes from Susan J. Ellis, President of Energize, Inc. 
Want more of Susan's Wisdom? You'll find them in our Online Bookstore. 
Energize, Inc. has been on the Web s ince 1997  offering over 1200 pages of information about successfully involving volunteers in your efforts. Visit our site to learn all about volunteer engagement techniques; find ways to connect with colleagues; gain insight into trends, issues, and even controversy in the field; locate conferences and other professional development opportunities; and more!

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