Volunteer Management Update
Elevating Volunteer Impact Begins with Asking the Right Questions
Want volunteer involvement to be most effective? Before you change things or launch any new initiative, start by assessing where you are now. Gather a small team to help you answer key questions to understand why volunteers are doing what they are now; evaluate how essential these things are; identify what most needs to be done today; and only then plan to implement priorities.
May Hot Topic
By Susan J. Ellis, President Energize, Inc.
That Pesky Word "Volunteer"
Are we giving recognition to all the people who are actually volunteers? To some who are not? We cannot assume the word volunteer means the same thing to everyone - and have to communicate effectively exactly what we mean when we use it.
Read this Month's Hot Topic.
July 26-28, 2017
St. Paul, MN
- You'll get to meet many of the most well-known trainers, authors, and bloggers in the volunteer field - not only to learn from them but with time to have personal conversations with them, too. [List of speakers-most of whom are participating for the entire three days.]
- The Summit is totally centered on what you need to know to mobilize and support volunteers, in any setting - whether you are a full-time, part-time, paid or volunteer leader of volunteers. [List of more than 100 workshops.]
- One of the goals is to stimulate discussion of how we can grow the profession of volunteer management collectively, increasing the impact of those who lead volunteers, nationally, regionally and locally.
- Unique sessions for funders and nonprofit leaders to learn more about each other's perspectives and challenges.
- You owe yourself a professional development opportunity! Especially if you can also have lots of fun and meet great colleagues.
Don't Miss Out! Register NOW.
Spotlight on Resources
Journals for Staying on Top of Your Volunteer Management Game
Many professionals such as doctors, lawyers, teachers, and engineers look to professional journals to keep informed about developments in their professions. Journals can contain research articles, reports, and even practical articles. Different from online blogs and social media posts, journals often dig a little deeper in their content and usually include cited sources for information and theories.
Fortunately, leaders of volunteer involvement have resources to stay on top of their "game" too! Energize has curated a list of journals devoted to volunteer management or that present substantive volunteerism information. Like journals in other professions, most require a paid subscription to maintain their quality content and publishing, but many offer some articles from their archives at no cost online. Here are some of our suggestions:
Canadian Journal of Volunteer Resources Management
A nonprofit publication highlighting the management of volunteer services in Canada and articles usually apply worldwide. The journal is now overseen by Volunteer Canada.
e-Volunteerism: The Electronic Journal of the Volunteer Community
Of course this is Energize's online journal, now in its 17th volume year. An international journal for advanced volunteer management practitioners, the article contributors come from all over the world. See the regular section of this Update
for details of the current issue.
Institute for Volunteering Research - Evidence Bank
Not exactly a journal, the Evidence Bank is home to publicly available research by the UK's Institute for Volunteering Research (IVR). It is an easy-to-use searchable database of research, reports, bulletins, publications and journal articles. You can
for the IVR newsletter to receive updates about their works.
International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing
Features the latest academic research taking place in the realm of nonprofit marketing, including fundraising and volunteer recruitment and management.
The International Journal of Volunteer Administration
The next generation of the former
Journal of Volunteer Administration,
IJVOA is a professional peer-reviewed publication of the Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences at North Carolina State University in Raleigh.
Knowledge Connect is a quarterly literature review of the latest thinking on social impact worldwide. The Australian-based site provides succinct summaries of publications noteworthy to social sector leaders and innovators. Volunteering is one of their featured subjects.
Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly
Bi-monthly international journal for nonprofit sector research offering articles from various academic disciplines. Frequently includes studies about volunteering.
Published by the Society for Nonprofits, this magazine covers governance, communications, fundraising, human resource issues, and more. Volunteer management has recently been made a featured topic in every issue.
The Volunteer Management Report
A monthly newsletter from Stevenson Consultants offering practical tips and techniques for strengthening your volunteer efforts.
New Articles Available
Volume XVII, Issue 3
Free Access this Month
From the Current Issue:
Mistakes and Failures Are Our Greatest Teachers: Do We Make the Most of Them?
When was the last time you went to a conference workshop that focused on how someone failed? Don't we most often focus instead on the successes we've had? We should learn from mistakes and be willing to share what we learned with others. Activities without risk may seem safe, but "are actually dormant. Worse, they may no longer be helpful to your mission, which means that you are asking volunteers to waste their time."
Subscriber Access Only
for a full year or 48-hour access)
New Postings Since the Last Update:
Applying Process Improvement Models to Volunteer Management
- How can we achieve more with less and simultaneously increase the engagement of volunteers? Christine Stankowski presents an option to do just that by applying what the business world calls a "process improvement framework" to the volunteer management process.
GO LIVE! How to Embrace Live-Streaming Video Platforms for Volunteer Programs
- Jayne Cravens explains how live-streaming video platforms like Facebook Live and YouTube Live allow people at a live event to share it with people off-site, in real-time. Could these platforms be used to celebrate volunteers? Recruit and train them? Yes! "It doesn't have to be entirely spontaneous," writes Cravens. "It just needs to feel that way."
When Management Gets in the Way - In this quarter's Research to Practice, Mark A. Hager looks at a study involving disaster response volunteering with the American Red Cross. This study actually asked dedicated volunteers about their satisfactions and dissatisfactions. Hager notes that "hearing real volunteers talk about their experiences can go a lot further in filling in some of the blanks left by survey research."
What's Coming Up?
Volume XVII, Issue 3 launched on April 15. Still to come this quarter are articles on: the history and impact of Time Banks; how evolving Web tools will transform the way we recruit and manage volunteers, especially through mobile devices; tips for training teenage volunteers; and more.
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? Here's a sample. Visit
our Pinterest page
to see this board and more images we collect for you.
Susan's Quick Tip Continued...
Here are some essential questions to pose, discuss with others, and then answer. It may take some time to determine these answers, but it will be time worth spent.
- Are you informed about your organization's strategic plan and current priorities? (If you're not informed, stop everything and find out!)
- Are the roles of volunteers aligned with the organization's priorities as of 2017 and beyond?
- How can you be proactive in recommending new roles for volunteers that would aid in achieving current goals?
- What are the top 3 activities that volunteers currently do the most for your organization right now?
- When was each role developed?
- Has it changed over time?
- Have the volunteers doing it changed over time?
- On a scale of 1-5, how critical to priority needs are each of these right now?
- How do you think agency administrators would describe the value of these roles?
- How do you think paid staff would describe the value of these roles?
- How do you think the people you serve would describe the value of these roles?
- ...or the quality of service performed?
- How do you think the volunteers doing them would describe the value of these roles?
- What is the newest volunteer opportunity you have initiated?
- When did you start it and why?
- Whom did you hope to attract to fill this role? Did you?
- How would you evaluate its effectiveness right now?
- What volunteer assignments have you eliminated in the last 3 years?
- Why? And if none - why?
- Who was most affected?
- Has the absence of that service been missed?
- What did eliminating it give you more time to do instead?
- What are volunteers not doing at all right now that you think is needed?
- Why do you think this is needed?
- Have you attempted to meet the need but not been successful yet? Why not?
- Or...what has stopped you from acting on this need?
- What is the demographic profile of current volunteers? [age, gender, race, income level, education, etc.]
- Is this the same or different than you might have answered 10 years ago?
- Does the volunteer corps reflect the community in which you operate?
- How would you assess your current recruitment strategies?
- Is your volunteer recruitment proactive, seeking out the best people, or reactive, mainly hoping they find you?
- If someone goes to your organization's Web site, can they quickly find information about volunteering with you - including a current list of positions and time slots you are trying to fill?
- Are you up to date about the best ways to use online registries of volunteer opportunities? How about the use of social media?
- If you do not have a good working relationship with your IT department or those responsible for social media, how can you change that?
- Go back and make sure you have answered Question 1 well.
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.
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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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