Having 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:
- Family Dynamics
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.