The New Breed of VolunteerHaving been out of the office at a couple of conferences I’ve found the train journeys have been a great time to get more reading done.  On Tuesday I finished The New Breed: Understanding and Equipping the 21st Century Volunteer by Jonathan and Thomas McKee.  The father and son team, who are both very experienced in working with volunteers, have written a wonderful book on the subject.  Coming in at under 200 pages it really is a straight-forward read.  It’s split into three sections: the volunteer recruiter, the volunteer manager and lastly, the volunteer leader.

In the first section it looks at two key areas: changes in volunteers and how to better recruit and utilise volunteers.

  • Firstly, it shows us the 6 great seismic shifts that have taken place in culture, which change the characteristics of volunteers today:
  1. Family Dynamics
  2. Isolation
  3. Flexibility
  4. Generations
  5. Technology
  6. Professionalism

It gives great insight into the characteristics of not just Generation Y but also how Boomers etc. are responding to the changes in society.

  • Secondly, they highlight the seven most common recruiting sins, and suggest alternative ways to recruit instead:
    • Sin 1 – Expecting announcements to work
    • Sin 2 – Go it alone
    • Sin 3 – Recruit only those able to make long-term commitments
    • Sin 4 – Assume “No” means “Never”
    • Sin 5 – Recruit any BIC (Body In Chair)
    • Sin 6 – Ask busy people to do busy work
    • Sin 7 – Recruit professionals who know nothing about volunteer management

Part two looks at the management of volunteers.  It challenges us to work with individuals rather than teams to support the needs and provide the challenges our volunteers need.  Two highlights from this section would be the discussion in chapter six on ‘Empowerment’ and how that differs from ‘Delegation’; and the discussion in chapter seven on the managing of virtual volunteers – which we’re not doing fully, but we are using software like Basecamp to manage and direct the different teams, so it was interesting to read something on this developing area.

The final part of the book encourages the need for leadership as well as management, and highlights some examples on successfully leading a volunteer organization.  In addition there are some resources to adapt for your setting such as ‘volunteer expectations’.

If you’re involved in leading a volunteer organisation, or managing volunteers this is well worth getting hold of – very highly recommended.

Married to the amazing Sarah and raising Jakey, Daniel, Amelia, Josh & Jonah in our blended family. Passionate for Jesus, social work & sport.

0 thoughts on “Partnership”

  1. Yes Chris, I agree. When our focus is on relationships I think that anything we can add to the half an hour a week or every two weeks in a large or small group setting can only be good. Support, sharing resources and encouragement are all big pluses in my book when it comes to partnership. You get the reinforcement that you’re not alone in ministry, the youth get to see that it’s bigger than just their youth group.
    I’ve thrown a few verses together to add a little theological context which I hope is helpful.

    We can do more together than each organisation could do by itself:

    Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
    9 Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their work:

    (when you tie up 2 oxen to pull a cart they can pull at least 2 or 3 times the amount as much as they could independently)

    We all need support and encouragement::

    10 If one falls down,
    his friend can help him up.
    But pity the man who falls
    and has no one to help him up!

    11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?

    12 Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
    A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

    Jeremiah 29: 7-9
    7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

    (A little reminder to stay focussed on God and listening to His voice, in the verse that follows: if the partners start trying to point you in a different direction from which you’re called…)

    8 For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, 9 for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name;I did not send them, declares the LORD.

    And of course the do not be unequally yoked verse (2 Corintians 6:14) is something to wrestle with.


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