Volunteer Management Update
The Leader of Volunteer Engagement as a Facilitator of Change
I was honored to be invited to provide one of the introductory chapters in VolunteerMatch's recent book, Volunteer Engagement 2.0: Ideas and Insights Changing the World. The topic was change and volunteers' role in it - and, by extension, the role of those who lead volunteers. The following is an excerpt of that chapter.
Most organizations do not have a vision for volunteer involvement and so do not approach it strategically. They hire "volunteer program managers" (VPMs) with job descriptions focused on finding and deploying unpaid helpers efficiently. Executives, who are rarely trained in the potential of volunteer engagement, have low expectations of their VPMs, mainly hoping we keep volunteers in line and happy. It's not that they prevent us from doing more, but that they cannot imagine what more can be done.
The great thing is that we can take initiative.
March Hot Topic
By Susan J. Ellis, President Energize, Inc.
Energize Turns 40!s
Where did 40 years go? Susan reflects on Energize's milestone anniversary by sharing her observations on what challenges to the volunteer field have never changed, which have gotten worse, and which have gotten better. Do you agree?
Read this Month's Hot Topic.
News from the Field
Reminder for 2017 CVA Candidates
The next registration deadline for the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration (CCVA) certification exam is less than three weeks away. Colleagues eager to earn their credential in 2017 are encouraged to apply by
March 15, 2017.
Considering becoming certified in volunteer administration? Visit the CCVA website for all the details.
2017 National Summit on
Volunteer Engagement Leadership
July 26-28, 2017
St. Paul, MN
Now you can see what all the fuss is about! The National Summit has
posted program details
- professional tracks, more than 100 workshops, presenters from around the world, and unique plenary sessions with "mind-opening" improv theater techniques! And lots of time to network with like-minded colleagues.
Several of us from Energize and
will be presenting and selling books at this important event. Join us!
After you register, you can download the graphic shown here and post it to your social media sites.
Spotlight on Resources
Have you ever visited
Energize's YouTube Channel?
We've been posting videos of our own for a while now - and also sharing good videos from others that are relevant to leaders of volunteers.
this month's Hot Topic
, Susan mentions the video she sent to the volunteerism conference in Beijing, China last month to be shown in the opening session. We've just
posted it to YouTube
for everyone to access. You can also view some short video messages and longer webinar presentations.
We will soon be creating and sharing more videos, including some of the new introductions to each
Featured Topic. It's free to
subscribe to our channel
(look for the red "subscribe" bar at the top right) and get notified whenever we post something new.
been producing videos about volunteer management that you'd like to share more widely? Please let us know and we'll see if they might be programs we want to include in the Energize Channel recommendations. Send us an e-mail to
with links to where they live on YouTube now - or describe what you have that you'd like us to upload directly to our channel.
Also, of course, please let us know about good video resources posted by others that you've found on YouTube already.
New Articles Available
Volume XVII, Issue 2
Free Access this Month
From the Current Issue:
The Professional Responsibility to Have and Share Opinions
Susan and Rob explain why and how a strong profession like volunteer management must advocate for its beliefs, and why members have a professional responsibility to seize opportunities to express their educated opinions. Doing so empowers individual volunteer managers and will move the field forward more quickly and effectively than is happening right now.
Subscriber Access Only
for a full year or 48-hour access)
New Postings Since the Last Update:
Whether they teach coding, organize hackathons, or recondition outdated hardware, both virtual and real-world volunteers are doing their best to ensure that nobody is left out of the digital changes transforming our societies for both good and ill. This
Along the Web
shares some inspiring examples.
As Betty Stallings (the journal's first
editor, 2000-2010) comes to the end of her training career, Erin Spink, the current editor, interviews her. Betty shares not only her best training ideas but also additional tips, tricks, and recommendations to help today's trainers grow in skills and knowledge.
What's Coming Up?
Still to come in Volume XVII, Issue 2 are articles on a social enterprise in the UK called Good Deed Dating that coordinates volunteer events for single people, and on how to differentiate between boards, councils, committees, and advisory groups.
As always, the articles from past issues remain available in the journal
You can subscribe to
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?
Recently, Lisa Dyer (whose wonderful humor always cheers us up on
) has added some copyright-free visuals as well. Thank you, Lisa!
our Pinterest page
to see this board and more images we collect for you. Visit today.
Susan's Quick Tip Continued...
What do we
our purpose to be? Is it our role to maintain a volunteer program or to identify unmet client and staff needs and find non-cash resources in the community to meet those needs? Are we about
? We create most of the roles volunteers fill. Are volunteers always assistants, or do we open opportunities for them to lead, be creative, experiment, dream?
Satisfied volunteers are not the purpose of our work,
is. By making sure volunteers do the things with the greatest meaning to the recipients of service, the lovely win-win is volunteer satisfaction, too!
This sort of approach to our work requires a certain tolerance of risk. Are we willing to rock the boat? Are we afraid of controversy, even conflict? Do fears about safety and liability limit our innovation? Are we worried about our own job security? Examine your reactions to these questions carefully and consider whether your personal discomfort might make you an unwitting obstacle to change by limiting volunteers.
Our role is to facilitate volunteer accomplishment. That raises more important questions:
Looking into the Crystal Ball
- How do we react to new ideas posed by volunteers? Do we advocate for them to agency decision makers?
- How often do we go out and recruit new volunteers for their different backgrounds, skills or opinions? Do we recruit to fill vacancies on a roster or do we invite people with creativity and drive to join the fight for our cause?
- Do we challenge and re-educate volunteers (and paid staff) who resist new ways of doing things?
- How often do we review volunteer position descriptions and ask: Is this still the most important and effective thing volunteers could be doing? And what do we do when the answer is, no?
History teaches that where there is change, there will be volunteers. Whether reactive to societal trends or proactive in urging solutions to problems, we can safely predict that volunteers will find whole new causes in the years to come. In what ways could a global pandemic force more people to become active in health issues in their local community? How will teleportation and holograms alter friendly visiting to those who are homebound (that is, if there will still be any homebound people)? Will there be an equal rights movement for the first extraterrestrials to settle on earth? What natural disasters caused by global warming will require emergency response?
Volunteering is a force of nature. It has always been at the vanguard of change because volunteers act out of determination to make things happen. If there is a human need or social problem not yet addressed by established institutions, volunteers will respond first. If the organizations that emerge from those initial volunteer efforts become unresponsive or unwilling to change, new volunteers will leave to start different initiatives-and the cycle repeats.
Not every volunteer is a leader or is willing to take the risk of challenging the status quo. Some people are joiners or dabblers, satisfied to support the work others lead. Not every volunteer is competent or inspired. But collectively, over time, the cumulative effect of donated efforts towards a cause can move mountains and change the course of history. And regardless of how much we are paid, what we choose to call ourselves, or how we are viewed by the general public, we who are leaders of volunteer engagement will be right in the middle of it all.
Read what the 35 expert contributors have to say about key trends and issues in our field. And get your 25% discount by ordering from the Energize Online Bookstore. Get your copy of
Volunteer Engagement 2.0
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.
has been on the Web s
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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