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~February 2002~
  • Did You Give Up on Newspaper Ads To Recruit Volunteers? Big Mistake
  • Accommodating The Volunteer
  • Are Charities Serving Victims?
  • CyberVpm Moves On

Did You Give Up on Newspaper Ads To Recruit Volunteers? Big Mistake.

Countless stories in the media, TV, radio, and Internet have predicted the demise of the newspaper. Circulation numbers have stayed the same since the 1960s, despite increases in the population. A new study finds that fully 85% of Americans read a newspaper at least once per week. More importantly, the topics that drive readership are right up the alley of those seeking to generate enthusiasm about volunteerism. The topics that drive readership more than others, listed in order of their popularity:

  1. Intensely local, people focused news
  2. Lifestyle news
  3. Governance and global relations
  4. Natural disasters and accidents
  5. Movies, TV, and weather
  6. Business, economics, and personal finance
  7. Science, technology, environment
  8. Police, crime, and judicial system
  9. Sports

American Demographics, July 2001

Accommodating The Volunteer

American business is moving to organizing the workplace to be more employee friendly. This includes such things as designated benefits, sick leave, and vacation leave. There is also more flexibility in such things as spending accounts and scheduling. Workers have come to expect this.

Twice as many companies offer telecommuting options, as did so five years ago. It was 20%, now it is 37%. 25% provide job-sharing opportunities, 31% give compressed workweeks, compared with 22% in 1997. 4% of the bravest companies permit pets at work.

These changes are being driven by several factors; most notable among them are childcare issues, and the need to care for elderly parents.

What does this have to do with volunteers? The willingness of for profit companies to provide flexibility to work is also required by voluntary and nonprofit organizations. Volunteers used to sign up with an organization and stay active throughout their life. Just like people did in their "for-pay" work." In the 21st Century volunteers spend some time with one volunteer program and then move on to do something else. They do not work the way their parents did.

This demand for flexibility in volunteering requires continuous assessment of the role volunteers play in an organization.

    • Conduct regular assessments of the overall program of volunteer involvement with clients or members for its efficiency and effectiveness.
    • Assess the time and resources need to recruit volunteers for all positions. Put a $ amount on that effort to determine if it is still worth doing.
    • Have volunteers and staff, currently working in specific areas, recommend ways the positions can be done in ways that are more flexible. For example, can four people agree to tutor in a school in a given month? One of the four shows up every Thursday.
    • Look for creative ways to alter volunteer positions to make them more flexible.
    • Interview some episodic or short-term volunteers and ask them what type of flexibility might make them consider a longer-term involvement with the volunteer program. Be sure they know you are not pressuring them, but trying to build a more flexible volunteer program. Asking long term continuously serving volunteers about ideas for short-term service is not likely to be fruitful. It is not the way they volunteer.

Are Charities Serving Victims?

A new book of essays, What Makes Charity Work?, maintains that since the 1960s people who receive the services of nonprofit organizations are viewed as "victims who need assistance." The writers of this book suggest that the new century present the opportunity for nonprofit and voluntary programs to return to traditional American values. Those values include stressing the importance of self-reliance and personal responsibility, and not the distribution of cash. It is the antithesis of creating an on-going dependency among the poor. The focus should be on bringing the poor into the full mainstream of life.

The authors purport that philanthropic institutions regard poverty as a product of such things as economics and racism. Therefore the role of the charity was to correct social injustice by redistributing income, and they contend creating bloated and ineffective non-profit organizations. Several examples are given where the number of staff grows dramatically, as the charity becomes merely an arm of government welfare programs.

The authors raise the issue that a return to vales-oriented philanthropic activity is a way to move people from the "street" to the mainstream. One author highlights a program that moves unskilled workers into the workplace. In five years the organizations has placed 14,000 former drug addicts, offenders, and homeless people in entry-level jobs. After two years 85% of the individuals are still working.

This organization's goals are to rid people of self-defeating behavior such as bad attitude, bad body language, and passivity. It stresses building the clients' sense of power to control their own lives. Rigorous, no-nonsense training by staff who were formerly in the same position as the clients, has zero tolerance for such things as racial blaming, the excuse of victimization, and resentment of authority.

This controversial look at the future of nonprofit and voluntary organizations is sure to be a cause for self-examination in organizations around the world.

What Makes Charity Work? Editor Myron Magnet
As excerpted from review in The Futurist, January/February 2002


CYBERVPM, the best know and groundbreaking online discussion site for volunteer manages is moving on. Beginning in the summer 2002 this award-winning site will be moving into new hands. Its owner, Nan Hawthorne, is refocusing her career and will be passing some of's features to other capable hands. Some of the elements of this site have moved already. For more information you can visit

Here is a list of the changes and the links to new locations:

  • Fresh Ideas Delivered to your Mailbox/ Update

This weekly e-newsletter has been reborn as VOLUNTEER MANAGEMENT REVIEW and is likewise free. Subscribe at

  • web site articles and links

The web site, the oldest site entirely devoted to volunteer resource management, has been shut down, but its many articles on volunteer resource management have been or soon will be available in the archives of

  • Sample Volunteer Program Procedure Manual

This free sample manual is available by sending an email to:

  • You can keep up-to-date on at
  • For those of you who know Nan Hawthorne, you can find her current work at VOLUNTEER MANAGEMENT REVIEW and other forums and publications at CharityChannel and eSight Careers Network at: She continues to maintain the GOV-VPM resources at the Points of Light Foundation at

Hawthorne enjoys new ventures that allow her to devote herself entirely to her first calling, writing. You can reach her at

AND you can still find Hawthorne's very popular training kits right here at the VOLUNTEER TODAY BOOKSTORE!


The Points of Light Foundation has forms available to nominate volunteers and volunteer organizations for the Daily Points of Light Award. It is designed recognize individuals and groups that demonstrate unique and innovative approaches to community volunteering and citizen action, with a strong emphasis on service focused on the goals for children and young people set by the Presidents Summit for American's Future.

The award is given five days a week, excluding holidays. If you would like nomination forms, contact Crystal Hill at 202-729-8000.


By calling 1-800-VOLUNTEER in the U.S., individuals can be connected to their local volunteer center. This is a national interactive call routing system designed to get volunteers connected to people who can help them volunteer.

Copyright 2002 by Nancy Macduff.