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Volunteer Power!

Volunteer Power News — Number 18
Author: Thomas W. McKee
"Volunteer Power News" Monthly Newsletter

© 2004 Advantage Point Systems Publishing

A warm welcome to all volunteer managers - those of you who recruit, motivate and mobilize volunteer workers.

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This Issue:

I want to talk with you this month about motivation. What is motivation and how can we motivate people to volunteer?

How do we motivate the 21 Century, very busy, very independent volunteers, who suffer from the "bowling alone" syndrome?

The "Bowling alone" syndrome was first brought to light in a 2000 best selling book by the same name written by political scientist Robert Putnam of Harvard University. For a variety of reasons, Americans have drifted away from civic activities like voting and belonging to clubs and organizations, and increased their hours in solo activities like television watching, video games and internet suffering.

How do we motivate the 21st Century person to volunteer for our cause?

The truth is that we cannot motivate anyone. And when we try to use our motivational skills-a rousing speech or guilt, our success will be very short lived.

However, everyone is motivated. Bottom line, people do things for their reasons, not yours. That is the key to motivation. We must tap into each volunteer's inner-motivation.

So how do we tap into the inner motivation of our potential volunteers? Here are several ideas that you can use.

A few motivational ideas you can use for recruiting volunteers:

Tap into the inner-motivation of the growing number of self-employed who are highly motivated to volunteer

The often ignored, but ever growing number of self-employed people is growing. Some predict that with the growing trend of outsourcing (the high cost of worker's comp, and company benefits) almost 50% of the workforce in the U.S. will be self-employed by the year 2010. Volunteer managers feel that the self-employed are too busy running their own companies to tap recruit them; however, self employed have a three-fold motivation to volunteer.

First, Self-employed people are entrapueneural and are excited to share their expertise. But they want to be asked. Most will never volunteer. The wise volunteer manager who takes a self-employed person out to lunch and outlines what he/she can do for the organization will find a gold mine of energy, commitment and expertise.

Second, self-employed know that volunteering is a great way to network with potential clients. When they demonstrate their skills and knowledge with owners of local businesses, they demonstrate just how effective and dependable they can be in offering their services.

Third, self-employed people want to make a difference. They will get involved in organizations with a focused mission-which leads to the second idea you can use.

Tap into your cause to stimulate the inner motivation of the volunteer

When you connect your mission to the volunteer's passion, you gain a volunteer who is committed to your organization. Passion can fade over time, so I encourage organizations to keep asking the question, "What is the main thing that we do?" Try to answer that question with a focused mission statement. Give that question to your board or your volunteers and hammer it out into a "cause" or "mission" statement.

Tap into the reasons people volunteer

In Sue Vineyard's book Secrets of Motivation: How to Get and Keep Volunteers and Paid Staff, here are several of the characteristics she relates about today's volunteers. As I read her characteristics I noted words like learn, satisfaction, time, model values, relationships, and solve problems.

  • When individuals perceive that they are likely to learn something from a position, they are more likely to respond positively to a request to volunteer.
  • Adults overwhelmingly (98%) believe that a great deal of satisfaction is gained by volunteering and 76% think it is important to include volunteer activities in their lives.
  • Most volunteers give an average of 3-5 hours a week.
  • Time is one of their most valued commodities. Volunteers love to combine volunteering with other commitments so they can do good work, socialize, and model values to their children and co-workers all at the same time.
  • Relationships are highly valued, so opportunities to work with those people they enjoy often are snapped up.
  • Volunteers prefer to be creative as they solve problems. They believe in what they can do and want people to let them do it without red tape or hassles.

So how do we motivate volunteers? We don't. We provide the opportunities for volunteer to fulfill their inner motivation through our organizations. Sounds like a win/win to me.

I recently spent six hours with 40 volunteer managers on the following topics. We laughed and brainstormed, and came away highly energized with new enthusiasm as we tapped into our inner motivation. The topics for discussion were:

  • Passion and power: How to mobilize the power and passion of the volunteer team.
  • Volunteers don't volunteer-they must be recruited: How to recruit today's busy person.
  • Motivation is an inside job: How to create a volunteer culture that stimulates the inner motivation of the volunteer.
  • Gen' Xers get involved and can make a difference: How to recruit and mobilize the Gen' Xer.
  • People get involved in causes--not organizations: How to awaken a passion for your cause.
  • Power communication: How to frame your recruitment message to specific groups.
  • Position driven or people driven-there is a major difference: How to determine the position and fill that position for your leadership team
  • Empowerment is not delegation: How to empower the volunteer, without going amuck (dropping the ball). How do manage visionaries with wild, outrageous ideas
  • The 21st century volunteer: The old volunteer structure doesn't include the new volunteers. What structures need to change in our volunteer management programs.

We would love to put facilitate this workshop for your volunteer managers. Give us a call at (916) 635-0677 or fill out our contact form.

Thomas W. McKee
Volunteer Power

Tom McKee is a leading volunteer management speaker, trainer and consultant. You can reach Tom at (916) 987-0359 or e-mail him at tom@advantagepoint.com

For more articles by Thomas McKee, visit the Articles section on our website.

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