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.   
TopQTipThe Importance of Defining Boundaries for Volunteers

In her important book, Best of All: the quick reference guide to effective volunteer involvement, Linda Graff examines many topics sometimes glossed over by others. One of these is setting boundaries and here are some excerpts of her useful advice.  
She begins by noting: Volunteers are typically good people who want to help. If volunteers create trouble for themselves or the organization, it will most often be out of good intent rather than ill intent. They sometimes do not understand why they should not do more, rather than less, in their volunteer work, and their good intent can sometimes have not-so-good consequences. Read more...
October Hot Topic
By Susan J. Ellis, President Energize, Inc.

Leaders of Volunteers: Will You "Be the Voice" for Our Profession?

The theme of International Volunteer Managers Day 2017 (November 5) is "Be the Voice!" What does this call to action mean and how can each of us speak out effectively on behalf of our profession and the volunteers we lead? Consider what you "say" in actions as well as words. And prepare to celebrate IVMDay! Read this Month's Hot Topic.  
We'll also be linking all month to what other volunteerism bloggers post on the IVMDay theme. Keep checking in - and add your thoughts, too!  
You can subscribe to the Hot Topic as a podcast or  RSS text feed - or   listen to the audio online.

News from the Field

Can You Make the Case for Why Invest in Volunteer Engagement?

Have you heard colleagues say: "It's just not possible to get funders to give money to support volunteer management"? Do you think that's true? Actually, the sad fact is that very few organizations submit proposals requesting funds for engaging volunteers - partly because they do not know how to "make the case" effectively. Help has arrived!  
With a big thank-you to The Leighty Foundation, there is now a "Why Invest in Volunteer Engagement?" Web site that speaks directly to funders, educating them on why money is needed to expand effective volunteer efforts, tying this to the overall goals of achieving an organization's mission.  
Click on the "Volunteer Engagement" tab in the navigation bar and you'll find sections with strategies for funders and for organizations, plus you can download a free, 20-page booklet to print out and share widely: The Funder's Guide to Investing in Volunteer Engagement.  
Thank you to Jane Justis Leighty for her advocacy for our profession and for the volunteers we lead. You can read more about the effort to bring funders and nonprofit leaders together in the new e-Volunteerism article by Beth Steinhorn.
Spotlight on Resources

New E-Book in EPUB and MOBI Format in the Online Bookstore

The "new breed" of leaders of volunteers will jump at the chance to download our latest e-book addition to the Energize Online Bookstore. Check out The New Breed, Second Edition by Jonathan McKee and Thomas Mckee on any electronic device (learn more here), and learn the wants and needs today's "new breed" of volunteers, especially those who don't respond to old management styles.  
Jonathan McKee and Thomas McKee have tapped into their decades of experience with the simple goal of helping you recruit, manage, and lead today's volunteers. They'll guide you to a clearer understanding of what volunteers look like now, how they want to get involved, and how you can most effectively attract, train, and unleash them within your organization.  
Read a sample from the book here.
e-Volunteerism The Electronic Journal of the Volunteer Community
New Articles Available 
Volume XVII, Issue 4

Free Access this Month 
From the Archives:

The Evolution of International Volunteer Managers Day (XV, 1 Oct. 2014) - IVMDay acknowledges the people who lead volunteers, salutes them for their essential role in creating dynamic volunteer opportunities, and works to raise the profile of the volunteer management profession. But just how did it all begin in 1999? What mechanisms have kept the show rolling and what might the future hold? Andy Fryar and members of the IVMDay Committee review the evolution of this growing annual event.

From the Current Issue:
Passion, Not Mimicry  - At a UK conference in 2007, Rob Jackson heard discussion of: What are the significant issues facing volunteer managers today? And when the answers in a similar event ten years later mimicked the exact same responses, Jackson's heart sank. Jackson and co-author Susan J. Ellis write, "it seems as if our profession is still stuck at the same stage of development. How are we ever going to succeed if we cannot collectively overcome the challenges that continue to dog us in our field?" In this Points of View, Jackson and Ellis suggest a simple path toward change: Steer clear of the choice to mimic what others are doing and instead develop and follow a passion for volunteer management work by refocusing on its purpose and promise.  

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

steinhornMaking the Case to Funders to Invest in Volunteer Engagement - A special track at the National Summit on Volunteer Engagement Leadership this July convened a group of funders (foundations and other donors) who met with volunteer resources managers and other nonprofit organization leaders. The purpose? To discuss the challenges of funding volunteer engagement efforts. Beth Steinhorn, one of the track's leaders, excerpts and consolidates tips and strategies discussed to help non-profits make the case to funders: investing in volunteer engagement is beneficial. Get the link to the free "Guide to Funders" now available on the Leighty Foundation website.
What unique factors should adults consider when working with young volunteers - factors that set teens apart from others? Using the successful 4-H Youth Experiences in Science Project as a case study, Part 2 of last issue's Training Designs by Marianne Bird and Sue Manglallan explores how to train adults to work successfully with teenage volunteers.  
The next issue of e-Volunteerism, launching on October 15th, marks the beginning of Volume XVIII. Great articles are in process for this issue, including: a Points of View dialogue on an experiment in Italy offering volunteer work to north African asylum seekers as they await confirmation of their immigration status; reflections on what makes "volunteer management" different in a church congregation (by a vicar who was once a professional volunteer manager); resources to help you develop strong volunteer handbooks; a report on the ways in which volunteers are engaged in meeting the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals; a consideration of ethics in working with volunteers; and more. 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 16 previous volume years.
YouTube: Useful Information for Leaders of Volunteers
Did you know we have created a playlist of YouTube videos to use as you learn more about leading volunteers? Here's a funny sample. Visit our YouTube playlist to see this video and more that we have collect for you. Feel free to share!
QTipSusan's Quick Tip Continued...
The identification, communication, and reinforcement of boundaries is a particularly important aspect of volunteer supervision...Clear expectations help to keep volunteer motivation high, and prevent volunteers from straying outside position and relationship boundaries. [Some suggestions include]:
  • Identify in position descriptions, and reinforce through orientation and training sessions the limitations of the position and the kinds of responsibilities volunteers should and should not take on.
  • Help volunteers to understand the implications (for clients, themselves, the organization, its reputation) of boundary breaches.
  • Provide examples of prohibited activities and help volunteers to identify situations in which they may be tempted to exceed position duties or cross relationship boundaries.
  • Clearly explain the reasons why prohibited actions are prohibited. (Volunteers are much more likely to comply with a policy or rule if they understand why it exists.)
  • Pay particular attention to boundary issues where volunteers connect directly and/or repeatedly with patients/clients or event participants, especially if the people being served are in any way vulnerable or isolated.
  • Clearly describe what on-duty relationships should look like, including appropriate and inappropriate ways of relating to clients, supervisors, board members, employees, and peers.
  • Clearly communicate whether off-duty contact and/or relationships is (are) acceptable with any of the people the volunteer has met through their volunteer work.
It will not be possible (or practical) to identify all of the things that volunteers ought not to do. Trying to develop "do not do" lists inevitably leaves things out and opens you to the volunteer comment, "But you didn't tell us we shouldn't do that!" An alternate approach is to identify what kind of characteristics the "prohibited" behaviors have in common. For example, they might
  • create safety risks
  • serve the volunteers' needs more than the clients' needs
  • increase client expectations beyond what a volunteer can consistently meet
  • create a sense of entitlement or favoritism among clients
  • require skills beyond volunteers' capacity
  • not represent what the service aims to achieve
  • increase organizational liability
The value in this approach is that if you can convey the underlying principles to volunteers, they will be better able to identify for themselves the kinds of behaviors that are out of bounds, and you do not have to think of every possible thing that volunteers ought not to do. Think of these principles as boundary "tests." Instruct your volunteers to put their potential behavior to these tests when they find themselves being uncertain as to whether to proceed and when there is no one immediately available to help them decide what to do.
This Tip was adapted from Best of All: the quick refrerence guide to effective volunteer involvement written by Linda L. Graff and available in the Energize Online Bookstore 
Quick Tips come 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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