|VolunteerToday.com~~ The Electronic Gazette for Volunteerism|
| RECRUITING & RETENTION
~ June 2006 ~ TopicsNew Forms of Volunteering - Entrepreneur and Occasional/Serendipity
New Forms of Volunteering - Entrepreneur and Occasional/Serendipity
The Multi-Paradigm Volunteer Management Model is based on the writings of Ellen Netting and Mary Katherine O'Connor in the book, "Organization Practice: A Social Worker's Guide to Understanding Human Services." The book visits the various theories of organizational management and behavior that have guided supervisors and managers for decades. The authors move beyond the past and into the demands of working with people who come to the work environment with different life experience and expectations for the organization. Working effectively with the post-modern worker is the aim of the book.
The applicability of this model to the world of volunteerism is apparent. For what is the person who works with volunteers but someone who leads and manages people to achieve a goal or mission, rather than working for pay. Working with Mary Merrill and Nancy Macduff the authors of "Organization Practice," developed a model that illustrates the many ways in which people are choosing to volunteer and it further suggests strategies to work effectively with those different types of volunteers.
In the first decades of the 21st century it is increasingly clear that the traditional type of volunteer is only one way in which people are choosing to serve, so the modern manager of volunteers needs to be versatile in carrying out their human resource tasks.
The literature on the management of volunteers for the last forty years has emphasized the importance of applying human resource management techniques to the organization and implementation of a volunteer work force. Having more people take non-traditional types of volunteer positions does not change the need to apply those same principles, it merely suggests that the actual management strategy will be different, depending on the type of volunteer.
Managers of volunteers still need to assess needs, design tasks or service expectations, gather background information on the volunteer, reach out to recruit the right people for the position, communicate with them, keep records, measure impact (quantitative and qualitative), evaluate, and recognize. But, implementation of those human resource strategies is different based on the motivation and needs of the type of volunteer.
Below is a grid that provides a model of the various types of volunteers. You might want to print it for reference as you read the rest of this article. It is important to note that there are no absolutes in terms of type. At the bottom of the top two and bottom two boxes there is a continuum line. People can be in the extreme of a type or more toward the middle. The grid is a means to visualize the different choices people are making in their volunteer life.
For those of you familiar with the Myers/Briggs Type Inventory the types are listed in the boxes where a significant number of people might be attracted to those types of positions who have a specific Myers/Briggs Type.
This month's Volunteer Today carries the second article on the new types of volunteers: the Occasional or Serendipity and Entrepreneur volunteer are discussed.
The entrepreneur is a person who wants to implement change or impact a problem in a personal way, believing there are no absolutes and that knowledge is soft, subjective and there are probably a million ways to do things. A good example of an entrepreneur volunteer is the creator of the computer operating systems called Linux. It was founded by a volunteer who enlisted other volunteers to write code...all for no money. These volunteers stepped in to offer an alternative to the existing computer operating system monopolies, in part. But, likely the biggest motivator was the challenge. Commitment came from the opportunity to provide a lasting contribution to the world of computing...with no expectation of wealth or fame. I suspect you do not even know the name of the man who created the Linux operating system. (Linus Torvalds).
This computer programming volunteer did not ask permission to do what he did, he simply did it, but without fanfare or notoriety (something often part of the vigilante agendaeven if it is limited to creating waves inside the organization).
Advocacy volunteers are entrepreneurial as they tackle local or neighborhood problems working from the small and seemingly insignificant to solving real problems or creating something entirely new.
In faith organizations there is a move toward home churches, similar to the home schooling movement. Small groups (only enough people that can be accommodated in a private home) are in a faith group that is led by lay people. The goal is not to get big, but stay small and very personal, with members providing spiritual support to one another through worship and other activities. Some established churches have embraced this notion and actually prepare people to form and lead the groups. (The Southern Baptists, for example). These are volunteers inventing as they go with creativity and changing existing notions about "church."
This is a volunteer that is guided, but not dictated to or "lead." These are often leaders in their own right, who want to make a contribution and know the resources and support needed to make it happen. Their judgments are more subjective and views of life are more subjective, than vigilantes. They are not absolutists, but those who see many ways to do the same thing.
As with the vigilante, many organizations are nervous about this "loose cannon" approach to volunteerism, but the entrepreneur volunteer has contributions that could be invaluable to an organization. What follows are some tips on how to manage this type of volunteer.
Tips for Managing the Entrepreneur Volunteer:
Occasional or Serendipity Volunteer
The Occasional Volunteer believes in the subjective and natural. Rigidity and rules are not for them. They frequently create their own volunteer opportunities without benefit of organization, sanction from authority, and with an eye to what works for "people." There approach to volunteer work is qualitative. Harmony among people working on a project is the most important.
These are volunteers who work each year on an event or projecta auction, fun run, clean the beach, paint the fences, clear the underbrush in a park, etc. They come to see the same people or come with a group that has been doing the same task for years. And there approach is usually loose and casual. Sometimes this volunteer takes on a short-term project-but one with not much infrastructure. They often balk at chairing committees, choosing to organize loosely and work in a value and "people-centered" fashion. This leader is rarely into rules, but relies on faith in others to complete the project. There looseness can drive a manager of volunteers or executive director to babbling in hallways.
In faith institutions this type of volunteer forms groups that are within the institution but are an alternative to mainstream activities. Unlike the entrepreneur who creates an entirely new entity (home churches, for example), the occasional volunteer believes in the social orderliness of life and is content to stay within the framework of the faith institution, but with a bit less rigidity. The Episcopal Church, for example, has a new "Bono" communion service that utilizes the lyrics and music of the musician, Bono.
Tips for Managing the Occasional Volunteer:
MULTI-PARIDIGM VOLUNTEER MANAGEMENT
Types of Volunteer Activity
DAILY POINTS OF LIGHT AWARD FORMS AVAILABLE
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, call 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.
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