Engagement Marketing Training & Development

Engaging Volunteers (3): Intentional Volunteer Management


“Too many organizations are thoughtless when it comes to volunteers.”
– Susan Ellis, president of Energize, Inc., a volunteer training & consulting firm.

Sadly, many former volunteers would agree with this statement. That’s why an intentional and proactive (rather than passive or reactive) effort is needed to effectively engage and retain volunteers.

Here are some guidelines to help you get started with intentional volunteer engagement and management.

  • Focus at the Board Level
    Volunteer expert Susan Ellis recommends volunteer involvement be a regular part of the board agenda so it can proactively focus on how to effectively recruit, engage, and maximize volunteer participation. “Don’t allow volunteer involvement to be the invisible personnel issue,” she says. She also suggests creating a board committee on volunteerism.
  • Learn who your volunteers are, their interest in your organization, and their volunteer expectations (as described in my previous post).
  • Clarify and clearly communicate your organization’s expectations of volunteers and what they can expect from you. Here’s a great example: After meeting with a nonprofit organization’s leaders, I received a follow-up letter inviting me to serve on their advisory council. This invitation described council members’ responsibilities and stated what the organization promised them in return, including “Appreciation of your time and our commitment not to abuse your time or generosity.”
  • Find ways to connect your volunteers to:
    • your organization’s mission, strategic direction, and goals. (Note: You can even include volunteers in your strategic planning process.)
    • your stakeholders (if applicable) to see your mission in action
    • your other volunteers for mentoring and partnering
    • your staff, particularly those with whom they’ll be working.
  • Provide the mission-focused training and tools your volunteers need to best serve the organization; e.g., orientation, ongoing communication, recognition, etc.
  • Proactively listen to your volunteers – obtain their feedback, ideas, concerns – and respond appropriately.

Volunteers require more than a simple “recruit ‘em and recognize ‘em” approach. Nonprofit leaders need to invest time and attention to engaging, managing, and retaining volunteer talent.

Stay tuned for my next post that will explore the challenge of engaging volunteers who are also brand partners.

Engagement Marketing Training & Development

A New Year & Special Anniversary

Greetings in this New Year!

2008 is a special year for me as it marks the 20th Anniversary of my business, Quality Service Marketing.

I began Quality Service Marketing in 1988 for a number of reasons.

Here are excerpts from my notes that year when I contemplated leaving my job in bank marketing. I wrote that I wanted:

  • Less frustration in a corporate environment I was not happy with*
  • More control over my career
  • More opportunity for greater achievement
  • More time and flexibility to be with my family.

*I also found this note: “Reminder: Yes, it really was that bad!”

Making the Big Leap

I weighed the pro’s and con’s of being self-employed (I’m not a risk-taker by nature), talked with my colleagues who had taken the plunge, and tried to figure out how I could start a business focused on internal marketing and services marketing. (Back then, most self-employed marketers specialized in advertising/marketing communications, public relations, or market research.)

My first deliverable was a service quality management development seminar. Over the past 20 years, my client work has evolved to include more marketing training and marketing/strategic planning facilitation – with an emphasis on employee-customer care through internal marketing – for nonprofit and for-profit service-based organizations.

Going out on my own 20 years ago was one of the best decisions I ever made, next to marrying my husband. Seriously, I couldn’t have done any of this without his love and encouragement. (Although he’s getting impatient waiting for the big bucks to pour in … ).

Thanks, Michael. Thanks, also, to Jason (my son and primary source of tech support) and to my clients and colleagues, who continue to teach me so much.

Here’s to Quality Service Marketing’s next 20 years!

Engagement Marketing Training & Development

2006: Recognizing A Special Anniversary

This new year is a very special one: 2006 marks the beginning of my 18th year in business as Quality Service Marketing.

Most small business statistics cite the first five years as being critical for survival, which is the reason I celebrate my business anniversary in five year increments.  But the number 18 has special significance for me – in Hebrew numerology, it represents “life.”  So I wanted to recognize this special year by acknowledging:

  • My clients (past & present) – I’ve enjoyed working with all of you, and it’s been an honor to serve you over the years, helping you with internal marketing & communications, marketing & strategic planning, and marketing & customer-focused training.
  • Special thanks to my long term relationships with Peg Portz & Jim Brown at Lehigh University’s Office of Distance Education; Pat Lawless at the Northeast PA Area Health Education Center; Ned Boehm at Keystone College; and Pat Goodrich, Lynn Brown & the rest of AMA’s professional development staff.
  • My colleagues – I’m fortunate to have a truly incredible network of marketing professionals & mentors whom I’ve relied on since starting QSM.  Time & space preclude me from mentioning everyone who’s helped me, but I need to acknowledge a number of special advisers (in no particular order): Frank Haas, Chris Bonney, Alan Kay, Toby Bloomberg, Len Berry, Steve Brown, Mike McDermott, Bill & Carolyn Neal, and Linda McAleer (she may not remember, but she helped convince me to start my business).  Special thanks, also, to my colleagues who continue to help make QSM look good: Glenn Wampole of Waitz Corporation and John Bartorillo & AJ Zambetti of Maslow Lumia Bartorillo Advertising.
  • Last (but certainly not least), my family and inspiration – my devoted husband, Michael (who’s still waiting for me to define success beyond professional & personal fulfillment. He loves to say, “Show me the money!”), and my wonderful son (and technological adviser), Jason.  I also need to acknowledge my mother, Ruth Fischman – a retired English & journalism teacher, who is still there for me when I need help with my writing.

Thanks to all for helping me reach this milestone 18th anniversary.  I couldn’t have done it without you!