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Volunteer Power!
Volunteer Power News - Number 65
Author: Thomas W. McKee
"Volunteer Power News" Monthly Newsletter

© 2008 Advantage Point Systems Publishing

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

You are receiving this newsletter because you signed up or asked to be on the list. Please recommend this e-mail newsletter or ezine to anyone who is interested in volunteer management.

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In This Issue
  1. Featured Article: How to Develop Your Marketing Piece or Speech to Appeal to the Pre-Volunteer
  2. Monthly Volunteer Leadership Insight: Don't Try to Teach Cats to Bark

Featured Article: How to Develop Your Marketing Piece or Speech to Appeal to the Pre-Volunteer - by Thomas W. McKee
Making An Appeal To The Pre-Volunteer

You have to write an article, a marketing piece or perhaps you are asked to deliver a speech to a local service club to appeal for volunteers. Or maybe you are appealing for volunteers at one of your membership meetings. How will you motivate people to volunteer? What will you say? What will you write so that people will jump at the opportunity to volunteer?

The chance to spotlight your need for volunteers is an opening gained or missed. To make sure that your presentation is an opportunity gained, develop your marketing piece or speech around at least one of the three C's of motivation: compassion, community or challenge. Some pre-volunteers respond to the appeal for compassion, some respond to the opportunity for community and others respond to the challenge to take a risk. But many presentations have a motivational gap between the desire for volunteers and people volunteering because the presenter employs a guilt-need to motivate listeners. How many times have we been sitting in an organizational meeting and heard the announcement, "We need you to volunteer, or we are going to cancel this program." Out of guilt, or because we care about our mission, or maybe because we don't want our chapter to be listed in the obituary column, we volunteer. A typical society newsletter announcement focusing on guilt is written this way: "Only 100 more volunteers are needed for our community project in November. Are you carrying your share of the membership commitment for our mission of concern for our community?"

Question: O.K., I understand what not to do. How do I do it right?

Good question. The answer is to appeal to the pre-volunteers' desire for compassion, community or challenge.

Compassion - The appeal to give back

What does ‘give back' mean? It suggests that we have been blessed and want to share our wealth, time, and/or labor with others. Most of us feel that way, and we don't have to be reminded to give back-we want to. We are compassionate people, but we just need to be given the right opportunity. The announcement above for 100 more volunteers needed for a community project should be written to address the member's sense of compassion. It could read this way: "We already have 200 volunteers who are helping us meet our goal of 300 volunteers to make a lasting impact on our community next month. With your help we will plant 100 trees, do weeding and mulching in parks, and provide home renovations for needy and elderly residents in our city and more."

As I write this I am watching people respond to Gustov. People care and feel compassion to help those who are in need.

Community - The appeal for belonging

I remember speaking at a local Rotary club. The place was a riot-laughing, joking, and making fun of each other while collecting fines for everything you could think of. I asked one of the members, "Don't you find it irritating when you get fined for missing several meetings and you have to stand there while they all decide the amount of your fine?" She laughed and told me that all members in their chapter figured that they would be contributing around $100 in fines a year towards their projects, so they just made it part of the entertainment. What I was observing was their culture of fun and friendship with a focus on service projects.

As I experienced the Rotarian bond and camaraderie, I thought of Robert Putnam's book, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. Putnam described how people have become increasingly disconnected from family, friends, neighbors, and our democratic structures, using bowling as a metaphor. He described how years ago thousands of people belonged to bowling leagues, but recently they were more likely to bowl alone.

In our research for our book, The New Breed, we discovered that since Putnam wrote his book in 2000, this trend is reversing. People are looking for communities. People do want to belong. People are not living in isolation. In just eight years that has changed. We are experiencing a rebirth of community as people are once again joining groups to volunteer (and pay fines to help good causes).

In looking how organizations promote a sense of community for volunteer participation, I came across this volunteer page on the website of the Lakeside Church in Folsom, California. Notice how they look for people who want to find a connection in a smaller community of a service in a large church.

The moment you come onto our campus there are volunteers serving you. From friendly greeters outside to the musicians on the stage; from teachers in Kidsfest to the greeters on the First Impressions team, Lakeside is totally dependent on volunteers using their gifts and abilities. The Lakesiders who serve each weekend are just a tip of the iceberg. We have teams who assist in the office, plan and serve at special events, operate our bookstore and so much more.

Volunteering is a great way to serve God and get plugged in at Lakeside. It allows you to develop new friends and make an impact in the community.

In all areas of service, you can try out serving without making a commitment up front. Browse the areas on the left and find one that interests you. Let us know of your interest and someone from that team will contact you with more details. If, after trying it, you feel energized about serving in that capacity you can be officially added to the team. But if you decide that particular area is not what jazzes you, feel free to try something else until you find what excites you to serve!

I respond to this request for service because they appeal to my passion (what "jazzes" me) to make a difference rather than guilt. But they also appeal to my sense of belonging to a group on a trial basis. They emphasize the many choices and that I don't have to make a lifetime commitment.

Challenge-The Appeal for Adventure

The Peace Corps successfully used the appeal for challenge in the 60s. Serve in the Peace Corps to live and work in a rural village, sleep with snakes, haul drinking water from a nearby river, and live in rough conditions to make a difference. Wow-how can you resist that call for danger? The appeal for adventure is hot today as hardy souls respond to the challenge of enduring hardship to make a difference.

I love this appeal for adventure from the Westin Park Hospital in the UK. Talk about appeal. Look at these challenges to raise money for cancer research:

New Adventure Challenges for 2008

Trekking in Peru, cycling from London to Paris, white-water rafting as well as opportunities for those wishing to tandem and solo skydive are all now available for our supporters who like a bit of adventure!

Go on we dare you!

We are still offering you the opportunity to raise money through tandem Skydives where you jump strapped to an instructor. Last year was in fact our most successful year to date with a record breaking number of participants for this exhilarating adventure which takes places at various approved centres across the UK on practically every weekend between now and October. (Early booking means you get the best choice of venue and date for you.)

New for 2008 is the opportunity to vary the type of skydive you do and if you want to set yourself on course for 'going solo'.

White-water Rafting:
Good as a corporate challenge - or just for a group of friends who want to do something different. You need a team of 6 to 8 people all with a thirst for adventure.

Cycle London to Paris - July 2008:
Two great cities - one great challenge. 5 days of fully supported cycling taking you through rural English villages, rolling French countryside to end up under the Eiffel Tower. Come on your own or with friends.

Trek Peru - October/November 2008:
Walk in the footsteps of the ancient Incas in the high Andes from Cusco to the famous Machu Picchu. This fully organised tour allows to acclimatise and build up to this most magical of treks.

But most of all we need to have our desire to make a difference awakened. Challenge us. Charge us up by telling us your stories of what you are doing and what we can do. We are ready. When you write your speech, marketing piece, or web page on volunteerism, dare us to get involved by appealing to our sense of compassion, community, and challenge.

Volunteer Power is committed to helping you appeal to the pre-volunteers in your community. The following articles and past newsletters talk about other ways to appeal to those in your community and organization who feel a need to volunteer but aren't.

All of these articles have one thing in common-Appeal to the pre-volunteer.

Appealing to the pre-volunteer is just phase one of volunteer management. In our training we emphasize the four phases of volunteer management.

  • Phase One: Awaken the Passion
  • Phase Two: Channel the Passion
  • Phase Three: Manage the Passion
  • Phase Four: Unleash the Power and Passion

We would love to help you learn how to awake the passion of the pre-volunteer and then move them through the next three phases of building so much trust that you can empower all that energy, passion and power for your mission (see last month's newsletter- the strategic challenge of volunteer management for a description).

Invest in your volunteer managers by booking a workshop for your agency, church, organization, or local groups of volunteer leaders. I'd love to help you.

For Information about bringing a workshop to your organization, click here.

Monthly Volunteer Leadership Insight: Don't try to Teach Cats to Bark - Thomas W. McKee
Leaders Choose Leaders Very Carefully

"You can't teach a cat to bark!" That was the comment from one of the board members. It was a tough meeting. The volunteer board members were discussing with their executive director an important paid staff member who wasn't meeting the job expectation. They had sent him to training workshops, mentored him, coached him, re-written a very specific job description, and the person still just didn't seem to be able meet the requirements of the position. Neither the board nor the executive director wanted to fire this staff person because they liked him as a person, so they were brainstorming about what to do next when one of the board members commented, "You can't teach a cat to bark."

Jim Collins, in his monograph, Good to Great and the Social Sectors, outlines five significant issues that frame greatness in the non-profit world. One of those five is "First Who--Getting the right people on the bus within the social sector constraints." As I listened to the board discuss this staff person, I questioned whether they had the right person on the bus. All the training, mentoring, coaching and motivation wasn't going to change him.

To paraphrase John Maxwell in Leadership Gold, here are three reasons not to try and get cats to bark.

  • If you try to teach a cat to bark, you will frustrate the cats.
  • If you try to teach a cat to bark, you will frustrate the dogs.
  • If you try to teach a cat to bark, you will frustrate yourself.
Many years ago the Springfield, Oregon Public Schools newsletter published an article that sums up my point (as quoted in Growing Strong In The Seasons of Life, Charles Swindoll).

Once upon a time, the animals decided they should do something meaningful to meet the problems of the new world. So they organized a school.

They adopted an activity curriculum of running, climbing, swimming, and flying. To make it easier to administer, all the animals took all the subjects.

The duck was excellent in swimming. In fact, he was better than his instructor was. However, he made only passing grades in flying and was very poor in running. Since he was so slow in running, he had to drop swimming and stay after school to practice running. This caused his webbed feet to be badly worn so he became only average in swimming. But "average" was quite acceptable, therefore nobody worried about it-except the duck.

The rabbit started at the top of his class in running, but developed a nervous twitch in his leg muscles because he had so much makeup work to do in swimming.

The squirrel was excellent in climbing, but he encountered constant frustration in flying class because his teacher made him start from the ground up instead of from the treetop down. He developed "charley horses" from overexertion, so he only got a "C" in climbing and a "D" in running.

The eagle was a problem child and was severely disciplined for being a non-conformist. In climbing classes, he beat all the others to the top, but insisted on using his own way of getting there.

One of the most important decisions that a leader makes is the selection of staff and volunteer leaders. The number one resource for the great non-profit is having enough of the right people willing to commit themselves to the mission. But they have to function in their areas of strengths, talents and time. Sometimes as leaders we have to make the hard decision to fire a member of the staff because that cat will never bark.

Tom's Books: The New Breed and/or They Don't Play My Music Anymore
The New Breed


Here's a glimpse of the Table of Contents:

Introduction: The Common Predicament
Where It All Begins

Chapter 1: Who Is the New Breed of Volunteer?
   A Profile of the 21st Century Volunteer

Chapter 2: Recruiting the New Breed of Volunteers
   The "Courting" Relationship

Chapter 3: Finding the New Breed of Volunteers (Not Scaring Them Away)
   The Seven Deadly Sins of Recruiting Volunteers

Chapter 4: Tapping into Two New Breeds of Volunteers
   Retiring "Boomers" and "Generation @"

Chapter 5: Motivating the New Breed of Volunteers
   Discover Three Levels of Motivation

Chapter 6: Empowering Volunteers to Do It Their Way
   Move from Delegation to Empowerment

Chapter 7: Managing the Virtual Volunteer
   Virtual Volunteers and Using Technology

Chapter 8: Managing High Maintenance Volunteers
   Performance Coaching the Volunteer from Hell

Chapter 9: Leading the Successful Volunteer Organization
   Mobilize the Collective Power of Volunteers

Chapter 10: A Leadership Case Study
   A Fable of How to Do It Right

  • Sample Position Charter
  • Sample Project Charter
  • Interview Guide for Hiring a Paid "Volunteer Manager"
  • Sample Questionnaire for Virtual Volunteers
  • Sample Board Code of Conduct
  • Strategic Planning Retreat - Agenda of Questions
  • SWOT Analysis Form
  • Ice-Breakers and Openers
  • Team Building Activities
  • Sample Training Exercise-A Case Study:


Plan Your Future
When the World
Keeps Changing

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As we try to navigate the 21st Century in this increasingly fast-paced and technology-driven world, many people are drowning in our culture of unremitting change. In the innovative book, They Don't Play My Music Anymore, Thomas McKee presents a creative approach to facing personal and professional change. He offers eight essential principles that can help you gain the confidence to face an unknown future. Using these techniques, you will develop a new thinking frame by which to approach your future with hope and confidence as you learn to embrace change instead of merely reacting to it.


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Hear Tom McKee Live: Listen to an MP3 of a ten-minute sample keynote presentation by Tom McKee, The Power of Volunteer Passion
Thomas McKee
Who Takes the Fall When Your
Keynote Speaker is Just

You Do!

You can count on Thomas McKee for any size group. He has spoken to over one half million people in Europe, Africa and the United States over the past 35 years and has worked with some of America's top corporations, organizations and associations.
(More info about Tom here)


Click here to listen

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@volunteerpower.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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