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Volunteer Power!
Ten Ways to Energize Your Volunteers for the Fall
By Thomas W. McKee

By the time you get this issue of Volunteer Power, the summer will be almost over. The kids on my block start school next week-August 17. And fall is always a time to regroup and dive into what we do with a special energizing something. What is that something?

Let me suggest you use at least three (or if you really want to see an impact, try five) of the following ten ways to energize your volunteers.

  1. Call five volunteers every week for the rest of the year. That is only one call a day, but you will have talked to over 90 volunteers and said, "Thanks for helping us." Tell them how much you appreciate their expertise, time and service. Ask if they're happy with the way things are going and if there's anything you can do help them.

  2. Be seen. Issue press releases about what your organization is doing. You are not being visible to get volunteers; you are being visible to let your volunteers know that they are part of something significant.

  3. Offer every one of your volunteers a benefit (i.e. T-shirt, Starbucks gift card,) for any new volunteer that they bring to one of your events to help in some way. Look at this as the first date with a pre-volunteer. Even if they don't volunteer again, it will create momentum. (See recruiting is like dating).

  4. Quit spending time with VDP's (very draining people) who always whine but never do anything. This will free up time to call everyone (suggestion #1).

  5. Keep a journal. Write down every contact you have with a volunteer. At the end of the week see how much time you are spending with volunteers to encourage them. Watch the list grow daily.

  6. Invest the time in teaching your staff and volunteer leaders to become better at what they do. How about a Volunteer Power energizing hands-on session with Tom and/or Jonathan McKee for your volunteers? What a way to energize your hard-working team.

  7. Enhance your ability to communicate to your volunteers with a social network. Many of your fellow organizations are doing it successfully. For information on social networking for the non-profit, see TechSoup's "What Can Social Networking Do For Your Organization."

  8. Build significant relationships with complementary organizations. Partnering with local organizations, churches, schools, and businesses expands your volunteer base. For those of you who are our regular readers-remember Bev in "Networking-How to build strategic alliances to find volunteers."

  9. Treat special volunteers in a special way. Every one of your best volunteers is unique. Write them a thank you note with a gift certificate for something they would love. Let them know that they are appreciated. If you have the budget, make it to the best restaurant in town. If finances are tight, the local coffee house is a great treat that just says, "I was thinking about you."

  10. Analyze your retention rate. Have someone on your team build a database to track when volunteers quit. When a volunteer has a change in pattern, call them! If someone volunteers in your office every Monday, call them on Tuesday if he/she didn't show up.

Pick three to five of the above and start today. Make them your fall project and see what happens.

Thomas W. McKee

Tom McKee Tom McKee is president and owner of www.volunteerpower.com a leadership development firm specializing in volunteerism. He has over 40 years of experience in volunteer leadership. Tom began his speaking career to one of the most difficult audiences-high school assemblies. Since those days he has addressed over 1 million people spanning three continents-Africa, Europe and the U.S. Over the past 40 years he has trained over 100,000 leaders how to manage the chaos of change in an organization.

The New Breed: Understanding and Equipping the 21st Century Volunteer Tom and his son Jonathan are authors of the book, The New Breed: Understanding and Equipping the 21st Century Volunteer (Group Publishing). The New Breed details the new cultural shift in volunteer management and also includes valuable, applicable resources for leaders, including job descriptions, icebreakers, team-builders and community-building activities, equipping leaders to move forward with confidence and empower valuable volunteers.

About The New Breed:
The New Breed: Understanding and Equipping the 21st Century Volunteer by Jonathan McKee and Thomas W. McKee. Group Publishing. Paperback, 176 pages. ISBN: 978-0764435645. The book can be ordered at www.volunteerpower.com.