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.   
TopQTipWhy Trends Matter to a Leader of Volunteers

Are you watching the national and world news and shaking your head? Do you wonder if global and regional developments will end up affecting volunteer involvement in your setting? You should. Volunteering never occurs in a vacuum and so all the social, economic and cultural trends affecting many citizens will clearly affect many volunteers. Sometimes current events provide opportunities to grab what's new or "hot"; other times they will set off warning bells to help you avoid negative impact. You can strengthen your leadership of volunteers by becoming an effective forecaster, making sure you seize great trends while sidestepping the bad. Read more...
January Hot Topic
By Susan J. Ellis, President Energize, Inc.

Pride in the Volunteer Management Profession
How do you react when your executive requests something that you think doesn't make sense or may actually be negative for volunteers? Take pride in your professional knowledge and do your job: speak up for best practices.   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.

2017 National Summit
News from the Field
Why YOU Should Attend the 2017 National Summit on Volunteer Engagement Leadership
July 26-28, 2017
St. Paul, MN
For several months you've seen the advance notices here for this unique national conference coming in July. Why should you attend?  
  • It will be an event that puts the profession of volunteer management front and center. Here is where you can find like-minded colleagues - and learn from each other for three days.
  • It will bring together the newest thought-leaders in volunteerism (such as many of the wonderful bloggers today) and many of the long-time authors and trainers who rarely appear in one place together any more. Meet the people you've only read, not heard!
  • If you are concerned about building your local professional network of volunteer resources managers, you'll get a chance to brainstorm new ways to engage your members.
More details about the plenary speakers and workshops by colleagues around the country will be announced over the next weeks. Meanwhile:

Help promote the Summit on Twitter. Copy and paste the following:
#LOVols, mark your calendars: early-bird registration to @MAVANetwork's #2017NationalSummit for #VolMgmt begins 2/1! #MappingtheFuture
Spotlight on Resources
Blogs and Wikis Relevant to Leaders of Volunteers
We just mentioned bloggers in the section above about the 2017 National Summit. Energize has been collecting an extensive list of blogs and wikis in our A-Z Volunteer Management Library. These include writings specifically for leaders of volunteers in any setting and also postings focused on certain types of service, such as corporate employee volunteering, fundraising, or nonprofit boards of directors. Almost every site listed lets you subscribe to a free e-mail notice of new postings. So see what you like and then stay informed.

As always, if you know of another resource that we should add to the list, please submit it through the form on the site.

Also Note...

On every page of the A-Z Library you will also see
Here we welcome you to share your own personal experience and wisdom on any of the topics in the library. What works for you? Have you tried something and now want to warn colleagues not to repeat your mistake? Whenever someone has submitted a Tip, it causes a new tab to appear in the topic page as "Tips from Colleagues." Look for those as you browse the library.
e-Volunteerism The Electronic Journal of the Volunteer Community
New Articles Available 
Volume XVII, Issue 1

Free Access this Month 

From the Archives  
A Volunteer's a Volunteer, No Matter How Small: Children as Volunteers (Vol. XV, Issue 3) -
While not a new idea, the thought of incorporating the efforts of young children as volunteers may seem daunting for some. Increasing the use of this underutilized group of talented "small" people is the goal of this  Along the Web by Erick Lear. Its selected websites provide examples of volunteer activities for children, best practices for working with young volunteers, and special issues to consider. 
From the Current Issue
Practical Ways to Capture Public Attention with National Volunteer Week Celebrations  - Rob Jackson and Susan J. Ellis argue that such national celebrations are not just about individual volunteer recognition, and take a more strategic look at the purpose and value of such weeks. Includes some creative ideas for doing something different.

Subscriber Access Only  
( Subscribe for a full year or 48-hour access)
New Postings Since the Last Update     
The Neuroscience of Awesome Training Experiences
- Erin Spink reviews a training session delivered by global trainer Michael Bungay Stanier who incorporates his insights from neuroscience discoveries into his training design approaches.

What's Coming Up? 
On January 15th, a new issue of  e-Volunteerism will open. Volume XVII, Issue 2 will include many interesting articles: a  Points of View essay on "The Professional Responsibility of Having and Sharing Opinions"; a thought-provoker on whether it's time to update the old vocabulary of the "volunteer engagement cycle"; on-the-spot audio interviews with participants in the recent IAVE World Volunteer Conference held in Mexico City; a  Research to Practice review of the Volunteer Functions Inventory (VFI) to strengthen volunteer recruitment and retention; and much more.

As always, the articles in the current issue will 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 16 previous volume years.
Copyright-free Graphics about Volunteerism
Did you know we have created copyright-free graphics to use as you wish in motivating volunteers? Visit our Pinterest page to see this board and more images we collect for you. Visit today.
Pinterest quote
QTipSusan's Quick Tip Continued...

Depending on where you live or what your organization does, some trends may be "in the news" but have not affected you... yet. Eventually they will. Think about how you work with volunteers today. Now think back in time:
  • 10 years ago: Did you need to give volunteers i.d. cards because of "heightened security" concerns?
  • 20 years ago: Did you routinely collect e-mail addresses and cell phone numbers for all volunteers? Did your agency have a Web site? Could you imagine someone doing volunteer work over the Internet?
  • 30 years ago: Was the fear of a new disease called AIDS making some volunteers back off from dealing directly with clients?
I could go on, but you get the point. For that matter, how old is your organization? Has it been around for a long time or was it started by founding volunteers who recognized an emerging issue (a trend!) and responded by forming a service to deal with it?

Becoming a Futurist

The first step in forecasting - and then taking action on - trends is to notice them! This means paying attention to the news and to commentaries on the news. It includes seeing recurring themes in fictional TV shows and movies, too. Thirty years ago all sit-coms concerned nuclear families of mothers/fathers/
sons/daughters. Today sitcoms offer mix-and-match families of single divorced parents, single never-married parents, couples without children, blended multiple married families, various sexual orientations, etc. If your organization serves children, for example, what do you, your colleagues, and volunteers picture as "family" and how does that mesh with what the children receiving services think?

Living in society with your eyes open is a good first step to recognizing trends. You can be more deliberate about learning what is likeliest to affect your agency, the people or cause you serve, and volunteers. For example, skim through popular and professional magazines geared to readers most like your target populations and spot check what issues seem to be percolating. As you identify trends you want to follow, recruit volunteers to help you learn more about them, including surfing the Web for more facts and opinions.

Acting on Trends

Once you feel in-the-know about trends, enlist help in analyzing the issues from different perspectives. Once or twice a year, convene a Trends Think Tank in which you invite volunteers and staff to discuss social, economic and cultural issues they feel are in flux and to consider how any of these might impact your organization. Ask volunteers to clip articles or refer you to useful Web sites whenever something catches their eye as a trend alert.

It's very important to look beyond the "first wave" of anticipated outcomes of any trend. Something that seems quite negative may, after the first turmoil fades, end up more positive in the long run. In the same way, something that looks wonderful at first glance may evolve more problems over time. A good strategy is to make yourself (and your Think Tank) identify both positive and negative possible outcomes for any trend, even if one list is longer than the other. Know yourself, too. If you tend to be an optimist or a pessimist, force yourself to see another side of the issue - or get help doing so.

Finally, recruit expert volunteers as "advisors on the future." A wealth of knowledge is available in every community and someone does not have to work on site as a volunteer to provide insight to you and key decision makers. As volunteer resources manager, you can ask all sorts of people to give a few hours a year to a meeting, a phone call, or a long e-mail to answer to specific questions from their trained perspectives. Such advisors can be political figures, funders, media reporters, university faculty, or any type of civic leader.

While you're imagining the future, can you picture an organization that looks to the volunteer services office for its visionary thinking? That asks you to be on the strategic planning team? That uses the unique ability of volunteers to respond quickly to new circumstances by testing innovative projects through volunteer action? Wow.

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 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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