Book Notes: The New Breed – Understanding and Equipping the 21st Century Volunteer

Posted: January 29, 2014 by Todd in Books, Ministry, Productivity
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Jonathan McKee
Thomas W. McKee
I read the first edition in March 2012.  A second edition is out now linked above.
Brief summary: Empower volunteers to serve in ways they feel serve their needs as well as your needs.  The New Breed wants to do it their way.  Treat with care.  
What I learned: Think more carefully about letting volunteers do it “their way” and paying attention to the needs they have and what they get out of volunteering.
Book Notes/Outline:
The Common Predicament
SECTION I: The Volunteer Recruiter
Chapter 1 – Who Is the New Breed of Volunteer?  A profile of the 21st Century Volunteer
The New Breed of Volunteers:
  • is very busy, has many obligations, and often volunteers for multiple organizations
  • wants flexibility
  • expects to be empowered
  • won’t tolerate working alongside incompetent volunteers
  • is tech savvy
  • doesn’t want to simply make a contribution; they want to make a difference
  • doesn’t want to be micromanaged


Chapter 2 – Recruiting the New Breed of Volunteers: The “Courting” Relationship
“The Dating Method”
1st Date: a tour
an opportunity to serve
a chance to experience your mission
a lunch where they hear your passion
1st Date Goal: Give them a taste, gather information, and get a second date
2nd Date: listen to their heart
find a fit
share roles and responsibilities
avoid “oh, by the way…”
2nd Date Goal: Recruiting, or building a relationship for future recruiting, or securing a future date
Future Dates: Understand that “no” doesn’t always mean “never”
Future Date Goals: Recruiting
Chapter 3 – Finding the New Breed of Volunteers (and Not Scaring them Away): The Seven Deadly Sins of Recruiting Volunteers
The 7 Deadly Sins (and corresponding skills)
  1. Expect Announcements to Get Volunteers (ask personally)
  2. Go It Alone (develop partnerships, build network and/or team)
  3. Recruit Only Volunteers Who Make Long-Term Commitments (recruit for short-term team projects)
  4. Assume that “No” Means “Never” (listen to reasons behind the “no”)
  5. Recruit Any Ol’ BIC (Butt in the Chair) (don’t fill a position until you’ve got the right person)
  6. Ask Busy People to Do Busy Work (recruit specific people for specific roles)
  7. Hire Professionals Who Know Nothing About Volunteer Management (look for experts in managing volunteers not the given cause or subject matter)
Chapter 4 – Tapping Into Two New Breeds of Volunteers: Retiring “Boomers” and “Generation @”
Recruiting Boomers:
  • Do you have a cause?  Retiring professionals want to make a difference, not a contribution
  • Are you providing opportunities for retiring professionals to use their professional skills?
  • Are you keeping the standards high?  Retiring Boomers don’t want to work alongside half-committed, unprofessional, “any old way will do” volunteers.
  • Are you highlighting the payoffs?  Make sure volunteers know what’s in it for them, as well as how their work benefits your cause or mission.
  • Are you providing flexibility?  These volunteers are on the go and will often volunteer for more than one organization.
Generation @:
  • Are you mission driven?  Don’t tell this young generation, “please do this job and have it done by Friday.”  Instead, say, “What can you do to help us accomplish our mission?”  Get to know them as individuals an listen to their input.
  • Are you a coach to these young individuals?  Be a coach – not a traditional manager.  A coach challenges volunteers to do their best, yet nurtures individuals and encourages them to reach their full potential.
  • Do you involve this young generation in decision making?  They want to be part of the team in making decisions.
  • Does your group practice diversity in recruiting, promoting, hiring, and seeking leadership?  This young generation ignores gender and racial biases and works with anyone who can help them accomplish common goals.
  • Do you take advantage of the community service requirements that many schools require?  This young generation puts in hundreds of hours of volunteering by the time they graduate from high school and/or college.  Do you have opportunities where they serve and be inspired by your organization?
SECTION II: The Volunteer Manager
Chapter 5 – Motivating the New Breed of Volunteers: Retain Volunteers by Motivating Them
13 Tips
  1. Discover what motivates volunteers
  2. Give regular feedback
  3. Offer Special Privileges and Perks
  4. Send Volunteers to Conferences
  5. Provide On-The-Job Vocational Training
  6. Be Available to Volunteers
  7. Provide Free Food
  8. Provide Tangible Incentives
  9. Have Fun
  10. Accountability
  11. Positive Gossip
  12. Huddles
  13. Thanking Families of Volunteers
Chapter 6 – Empowering Volunteers to Do It Their Way: Move From Delegation to Empowerment
The Six Rules of Empowerment
1. Don’t take the football – give it away
2. Label each handoff as either delegation or empowerment
3. Secure the handoff with a check-up appointment
4. Break down tasks into managable goals
5. Don’te take the football if you can’t do anything about it
6. Develop good handoff skills to avoid disaster
Chapter 7 – Managing the Virtual Volunteer: Virtual Volunteers and Using Technology
“virtual volunteers” do work for organizations remotely
useful websites:
Using Text Messaging and Email
  • Don’t deliver bad news via email
  • Don’t send a message that you wouldn’t want read in your local newspaper
  • Don’t assume your email will be read
  • Don’t use email to rant or vent your frustrations
  • Do use email as a follow-up
  • Do use email to document a conversation
  • Do use email as one of many tools to make an announcement
  • Do use email for affirmation, but not the only way to affirm
  • Do use email to send information
  • Do use email to remind
Using Your Website
  • Volunteer submission form online & volunteer page
  • Publish “10 immediate needs”
Chapter 8 – Managing of Canning High-Maintenance Volunteers: Performance Coaching the Volunteer from Hell
Try “performance coaching”
Step 1 – Try to feel what it is like to be in their position
Step 2 – Are there valid complaints behind their actions?  (Probe for “facts, feelings, and potential future”)
Step 3 – Determine how you should respond (apologize, performance coaching)
  • Performance coaching (give feedback)
  • Frame the problem (do you have a problem volunteer or a volunteer with a problem?)
  • Enforce the rules (keep the standard high)
  • Offer a timeout (refreshment, not punishment)
Fire volunteers when necessary, but consider:
  • legal issues
  • document all discussions
  1. hold the firing meeting
  2. conduct it in a private setting
  3. be specific, but use sandwich technique
  4. follow-up letter
  5. beware of firing backlash
SECTION III: The Volunteer Leader
Chapter 9 – Leading the Successful Volunteer Organization: Mobilize the Collective Power of Volunteers
Passsion: Are our volunteers passionate about our mission?  It all starts here.
Focus: Is that passion focused like a laser, or unfocused like a lukewarm light bulb
Strategy: Are we thinking strategically, using carefully crafted mission and vision statements?
Team: How are we building community among our volunteers?  Do they love working with us?
Training: Is our training geared for the new breed of volunteers who want to do it their way?

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