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Volunteer Power!

Volunteer Power News — Number 53
Author: Thomas W. McKee
"Volunteer Power News" Monthly Newsletter

© 2007 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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Getting High-Capacity Leaders, Movers
and Shakers, and Celebrities to Volunteer

And what do you do with them when you get them?

How does Eleanor Josaitis, founder of Focus Hope in Detroit, Michigan, recruit people like William F. Jones, Jr., VP of DaimlerChrysler Financial Services; James J. Padilla, President Ford Motor Company; James J. Padilla, Group Vice President, Global Manufacturing and Labor, General Motors North America, to be on her board?

Why did people like David Hyde Pierce and Maureen Reagan serve active roles on the California Alzheimer's board? Why does Maria Shriver, the First Lady of California, volunteer? Why does Denzel Washington help promote the Boys and Girls club? And why do Jimmy and Rosaline Carter work so hard building homes with Habitat for Humanity?

Movers and Shakers will never volunteer.

They will never raise their hand, or sign a list for volunteers. Why? Because they don't see volunteer as a verb. Volunteer as a verb just sucks all of the status, energy and passion out of the role you need to be filled. Volunteer is not a verb. Never ask a high-capacity volunteer, "Will you pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease volunteer?" Volunteer is a noun. Volunteer is the significant position or role I need to make a difference.

High-capacity volunteers respond to these four tests. Put to the test your leadership and recruiting methods against these four questions.

Test One: Do you ask?

Movers and Shakers want to be asked. They need you to look them in the eye and say, "I need your help. You can help us make a difference and I need your help to make this happen." Whatever you do, never say someone's no for them. Denzel Washington was active in Boy's club as a child. The late Maureen Reagan had a passion for people with Alzheimer's disease because of her father's experience. Maria Shriver learned about volunteering at an early age. She said, "My parents, Eunice Kennedy Shriver and Sargent Shriver, led by example and taught me and my brothers that we can all make a difference in the lives of others through service. My father always said we should break our mirrors and look beyond ourselves and look at the world to see who needs our help. And I continue to teach this same lesson to my children today. I often take my children to various service projects in our community. And although they might be skeptical at first, once they get there, they get it and they have a good time." Each of these high-capacity people have an interest in volunteering and a passion for helping or a certain cause. But they need to be asked by you.

I learned an important lesson 20 years ago that I've never forgotten. I went to lunch with a man who was a mover and shaker. I asked, "Why didn't you volunteer for this project? I could see your name on it all the way." I'll never forget his response. He said, "If you wanted me, why didn't you ask? I'd be happy to work with you on this project, but I'd never volunteer." Bill did lead the project-and many more because I always asked him. In fact, his family used to get concerned whenever they heard that Bill and I were going to have breakfast together.

Test Two: Do you know what you want the high-capacity volunteer to do?

The mover and shaker needs to have a crystal clear idea of what you want him/her to do, and then you need to give that person some running room to get it done. They want a project that they can do in their own time frame. Don't ever recruit a high-capacity person to be on your board, or advisory board and when they ask you what you want them to do, answer, "We will assign the positions when we see who all joins the board." Influential people won't make a commitment when they don't know what is expected. If fact, most of us won't.

Test Three: Are you a visionary?

The mover and shaker needs a visionary leader. They are used to taking risks. Movers and shakers need a visionary cause. Why do over 50,000 people volunteer each year for Focus Hope to deliver boxes of nutritionally-balanced food to the nearly 10,000 low-income senior citizens who have no transportation or are otherwise unable to pick up food from our food centers? The monthly food deliveries are a massive undertaking, requiring numerous volunteers to pack food boxes and deliver them to seniors throughout Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw counties in Michigan. Eleanor Josaitis is a visionary. This organization is amazing.

Test Four: Do you keep high-capacity volunteers aware of their importance to your mission?

The mover and shaker needs a reminder that what she/he is doing is needed. They need to know that the time they are spending is helping to accomplish the mission of the organization. In fact, every volunteer needs the executive director of the organization to say at least once a year, "You are not crazy. What you are doing is important. Thanks for helping us to _______________ (state your mission)."

You may be asking, "Why do I want high-capacity people?"

High-Capacity people are busy, but they will get involved. They will bring professional resources, money and contacts with other influential people that can help you accomplish your vision. Why would I ignore this kind of influence to accomplish my passion?

A friend was very frustrated with a national known leader who served on his board. This board member rarely attended board meetings and other members were beginning to complain about his participation. My friend asked me what he should do.

I suggested that he establish an advisory board of high-capacity people that believe in his mission, but just don't have the time to make the commitment of a regular board meeting. Publish these people's names on your letter head, web site and other publicity material. It gives you more credibility when people reading your material say, "Wow, if _________ affirms the leadership of this organization, I will get involved (i.e. give money, volunteer)." My friend not only asked this board member to serve on the advisory board, but he also got several other high-capacity people to serve on the advisory board. What do they do? Mostly nothing. What do they contribute? They raise the bar on credibility and that is priceless.

What can we do to help you?

Tom McKee     Jonathan McKee

Thomas and Jonathan McKee

The co-authors of The New Breed are volunteer leadership experts who help
non-profit leaders mobilize the power and passion of their volunteers.

We deliver our service by making Keynote Presentations for your volunteers,
association conferences and conventions and by conducting Training Workshops
on Volunteer leadership
for your volunteer managers to help them improve your volunteer program.

New Book Available Soon! (November)
Look for A Special Offer for our Readers

"New book!I found The New Breed; Understanding & Equipping the 21st Century Volunteer more than a little enlightening. The information the McKees share is current, thorough and updated. Their style of writing is hopeful and they offer clear, step-by-step procedures and processes, answering many of the "whys" along the way. Their advice is eye-opening and thought-provoking. I believe this book would be equally valuable and beneficial to business and volunteerism."
- Zig Ziglar, Author and Motivational Teacher

"Every volunteer manager in this country is facing the need to stop doing business as usual and re-think their approach to all aspects of volunteer management. The paradigm has shifted and we must adapt. Tom gives great sage advice in his new book, "The New Breed: Understanding & Equipping the 21st Century Volunteer" and I love the counterpoint of the fresh, new ideas and approaches suggested by his son. Not only is their banter back and forth very realistic - it's also very loving and fun - making this book a sure way to get inside the heads of the newest generation. Volunteer managers everywhere need to get this book - it's filled with great suggestions for changing the way we do our work. Congratulations to this new dynamic duo!"
- Mary Lynn Perry, M.A. Volunteer Coordinator City of Sacramento Board Member--Directors of Volunteers in Agencies Sacramento

Contact Thomas or Jonathan for...

Customized Training, Consultation and/or Keynote Presentations

Training Workshops on Volunteer Leadership

We will develop a program for your organization from the following workshops. Pick and choose from the following topics the issues that address your concerns.


The content of this workshop focuses on the changing volunteer culture. Participants will learn just how the 21st century volunteer culture is very different because of several significant seismic shifts that have changed volunteer management. These shifts have impacted the volunteer organization; therefore, how we recruit and manage the new breed of volunteer requires a whole new set of leadership strategies.

Some of the seismic shifts that have changed how people volunteer are the following:

  • Family - from Father Knows Best to Gilmore Girls
  • Community vs. Individualism - the team of one
  • Two huge potential volunteer resources - The retired boomer and young professional (and getting them to work together)
  • Technology - the virtual volunteer
  • The rise of the knowledge worker - Empowerment vs. delegation


This workshop focuses on "The Seven Deadly Sins of Recruitment." Many volunteer managers commit these sins on a regular basis and are losing out on a whole new breed of volunteers that are available if we just quit sinning--or making these recruiting mistakes. After each "sin" we present seven really cool ideas for 21st century recruiting. Sometime we entitle this workshop, "Seven Really Cool Recruiting Ideas that Work" - if you don't like the "sin" analogy.

  • Expect announcements to get volunteers that you want
  • Ask for marriage rather than a date
  • Think that "no" means "no"
  • Go it a lone
  • Be "people driven" rather than "position driven"
  • Use the four words that volunteers hate : Oh, by the way
  • Hire staff who don't know how to manage volunteers


This workshop focuses on increasing your retention rate by effective leadership. The 21st century volunteer is a knowledge worker and wants to be led, not micro-managed. The topics on the management workshop include the following:

Motivating This New Breed of Volunteers
    The three levels of motivation
    The greatest gift
    Generational motivation
    Hard-wired motivation

Empowering Volunteers Who Want to do it Their Way
    Why delegation doesn't work
    How to empower the new volunteer without dropping the ball

Evaluating your volunteer culture
    The three statements evaluation
    The screaming eleven evaluation
    The annual evaluation

Managing or canning the high-maintenance volunteer
    Managing the volunteer from hell
    Firing the volunteer and living to tell about it

The Virtual Volunteer
    The five levels of virtual volunteers
    I don't have to be a techie
    Hiring, managing and firing
    Web 2.0 and the virtual community


This workshop is for the national and/or chapter leaders of an organization. The content of the workshop focuses on how 21st century leaders must mobilize the unlimited power and passion of volunteers. Participants of the workshop will learn how to focus the energy of passionate volunteers who are opinionated, sometimes arrogant and often very emotional about their passion.

Topics include

  • What is passion?
  • Why passion is not enough?
  • Finding that one thing to unite passion
  • What is wrong and right with mission statements, vision statement and strategic plans
  • Keeping the momentum alive
  • Thinking and planning strategically
  • Managing change without losing volunteers

Keynote Talks on Volunteer Leadership

  • Mobilizing the Power and Passion of the 21st Century Volunteer Organization
  • The New Breed of Volunteer - Recruiting and Managing the 21st Century Volunteers Who Want to Do it their way.
  • The Seven Sins of Volunteer Recruitment

For information on fees and availability, contact: Thomas McKee (916) 987-0359; Tom@volunteerpower.com

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.