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Volunteer Power!

Volunteer Power News — Number 33
Author: Thomas W. McKee
"Volunteer Power News" Monthly Newsletter

© 2005 Advantage Point Systems Publishing

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

In this Issue:

1. The Significance of Great Staff/Volunteer Relationships – an interactive workshop
2. Choosing Board Members for the Volunteer Organization
3. We get letters department
4. Next Issue: No money, no mission. Asking Volunteers to Give Money (Isn’t volunteering enough?)

Tom McKee Workshop in Sacramento, California
The Significance of Great Staff/Volunteer Relationships

DOVIA (Directors of Volunteers in Agencies) in Sacramento is sponsoring the following Northern California Workshop:

Date: February 9, 2006 from 8:30 to Noon
Place: Retired Senior Volunteer Program Building, 3727 Marconi Ave., Sacramento, CA
Price: $35 DOVIA members, $50 non members

This hands-on workshop will cover the following topics:
• Preparing staff to work with volunteers
• Symptoms of staff resistance
• Reasons for staff resistance
• Hiring staff that are volunteer sensitive
• Role of manager of volunteers in volunteer/staff relations
• Methods of promoting good volunteer/staff relations
• Orientation of staff to volunteer program

Registration will be from 8:30-9:00am, and the training from 9am-12pm. Snacks and beverages will be provided

To register contact Darby Flynn dflynn@volunteersac.org or call (916) 567-3100 (x106)

Choosing Board Members for the Volunteer Organization

I received this e-mail last month. It prompted not only my response, but I recognized that I didn’t have enough information about boards on my website, so I want to take care of this concern.

The Question:

Hi Tom --

I have been reading your website and your question and answers are great. One of our dilemmas here is that currently we have a very strong board and a good board. Unfortunately we are losing 5 key players this year due to retirement, illness and job relocation. The thought of replacing 5 key members at one time seems daunting. Any thoughts or ideas of how to approach a large recruitment would be appreciated.

Thank you

The Answer:

Ann --

Wow--five members at the same time is a lot.

As I went through my web site, I just realized that I have not addressed the board issue much-- a real oversight. I teach it in my workshops, but for some reason I have not put this important information on the Volunteerpower web site.

Let me give you some quick suggestions and I'll work on a more complete answer for my next newsletter. I would like to use your question to key it off, if that is O.K.

I would make the following suggestions:

1. Go slow--don't be in such a hurry that you get the wrong people in the position. Having an empty board position is better than having the wrong board member.

2. Recruit for position, not person. What kind of board members are you looking for? I talk about this in the article The Seven Sins of Recruiting (note: I expand on this below) http://www.volunteerpower.com/articles/7sins.htm

3. Have a diversified board (the four W's):

  • Wisdom (Someone with experience in your organization that makes good decisions)
  • Weight (Someone who has influence in the community)
  • Wealth (Someone who can write big checks and knows others who can write big checks. And remember, often people with wealth are wealthy because they have wisdom and work hard)
  • Worker (Someone who is a hard, behind the scenes worker)

4. Develop a position charter for the board position. See a sample position charter on our web site (not for a board member though).

5. Take the prospective board member out to breakfast or lunch to recruit.

These are some quick ideas. Thanks for your letter, and I'll work more on it. If you have more specific questions, please feel free to ask.


The Follow Up: Position Driven vs. Person Driven – One of the Most Important Factors

There are two types of recruiting:

  • Position-driven recruiting
  • People-driven recruiting

Position-driven recruiting

I am a firm believer in position-driven recruiting and used this method for ten years when I was the director of a 3000 member non-profit organization. We had six board members who each served on the board for three years. Each board member functioned as the chair of a significant area of responsibility (i.e. development, finances, education, recruitment, membership services, or board chair). One advantage of six board members is that each year our nominating committee had to replace only two new board members to work in a very specific capacity. Before you react to such a small board, many of you do the same thing. You have a huge board (30—60 people) divided into about six committees. And your six committee chairpersons makeup your executive committee. I did the same thing, but we called the executive committee the official board and then recruited and managed almost 1000 volunteers that served on committees and action teams (but they were not board members).

People-driven recruiting

People-driven recruiting is based on the need to find a certain number of people to fill a board, committee or action team. A friend of mine was asked to be on the governing board of a graduate school. He was honored and considered the position. He joined the board, but became very frustrated because at the first meeting he was asked to serve on the development committee (raising money), and he felt that he had no expertise in fulfilling that position. He resigned before his term was up due to frustration.

I had quite the opposite experience. I was recruited to serve on the academic affairs committee of a graduate school. I was given a position charter, a list of roles and responsibilities, and was told that the chair of that committee was going off the board in a year; they were looking for someone to replace her in that position, and I was being considered. I accepted. Oh, and by the way, I was asked to raise money—all board members are. But raising money was part of the project charter.

Do you see the difference? My experience was position driven—not people driven. I knew what was expected of me, the position excited me, and I felt that I had some expertise to fulfill that position. My friend’s role on his board was not position driven. He was frustrated by not being able to use his expertise on the board. My role on the academic committee was exciting as I worked with the academic dean in establishing academic policy and considering changes in academic philosophy. I loved my role on the board and put in hours of volunteer time.

The same is true of association boards and committees. Most people who join associations are busy professionals who are trying to balance multiple responsibilities. We lose dynamic and effective board and committee members if we don’t recruit these people for the position that excites them.

The Interview

Recruiting board members was always one of my top priorities. I spent significant time working with the nominating committee to come up with prospects, and then I always took a prospective board member out to breakfast or lunch to present the position charter and talk about our mission, the position and what my expectations were. When I followed this procedure, I found that my acceptance and retention rate was 100%.

Jeanne H. Bradner is an author and specialists on board development. She is the author of The Board Member's Guide. She suggests the following in meeting with a potential board member:

Questions to answer: What is your mission?
What is unique about what you do?
What is my fund raising responsibility?
Why do you need me in particular?
Do you have a job description for a board member of your organization?
Don't tell me: The staff does such a great job; there really isn't much to do.
We only meet every other month and the meetings are short.
Do tell me: Where you want the organization to be in five years.
What your financial goals and concerns are.
Give me: Your annual report
Your budget
A job description
Make the mission come alive: Link today with the past and the future
Discuss real issues, challenges and changes

Board Resources

For more information about recruiting board members, check out the following articles and book excerpts on the topic:

We get letters

Hi Tom,

Just thought you should know that your newsletter and your website are also being read by volunteer leaders outside US borders. Curacao is an island off the coast of Venezuela, where the spirit of volunteerism is very much alive today, with ordinary people doing extraordinary things and making a difference in the lives of others. As current president of our service organization, I find your articles inspiring and encouraging. The articles shed light on the fun and fascinating world of volunteerism and on the difficulties we face in current times. You provide numerous tips and tricks that make my life as a volunteer leader much easier.

Of course I'm not the only one benefiting from your articles. Whenever and wherever possible, I share your insights with my co-volunteers so we can all continue to keep our organization fresh and exciting. For this, I thank you.

Receive from all of us warm Season's Greetings: May your Christmas be filled with Joy and Wonder, Peace and Promise, Cherished Memories and Boundless Love. And may 2006 be a Blessed Year in which you'll continue to inspire people all over the world. Keep that beautiful light shining in your heart forever!

Friendly regards,

Ingeborg Campman
Quota International of Curacao

Next Month: No Money, No Mission. Asking volunteers for money.

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. Other articles and free resources are available at www.volunteerpower.com.

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

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