Empowered Volunteer Month

Pin It




What is a volunteer anyway? At the core a volunteer is FREE HELP! Volunteers come in all shapes and sizes, experience levels and energy and time restricted levels. They also come in all economic status levels as well.

April is Volunteer  Month. It would be nice if in the future it became known as the Empowered Volunteer Month, but that is likely a few years away, if ever.

Across America towns and cities are showing their appreciation for volunteers with various recognition ceremonies. Newspapers print lists of those who have been selected for volunteer of the year honors. Usually these volunteers are outside the fraternal, civic or veterans groups profiled in this blog. Hospital volunteers, speciality charities, and numerous other groups supporting those in need are filled with volunteers in this fashion and recognized. Seldom is the recognition able to reflect the huge efforts involved by so many, but the effort to at least try and reflect on a few the honors often earned by many is both noble and worthy. Usually volunteers don’t serve for recognition anyway.


Volunteers often cite their efforts as a place away from the stress of work. They use the volunteer work they do as a stress outlet from their main work. So many more could use this strategy and yet the message is not getting out so they can join. That is one mission of the Empowered Volunteer.


Another benefit of volunteering is access to many people who have expertise in many areas. To a certain extent this source of free advice.

The numerous health benefits to volunteering have been documented in this blog over the first year this month since I launched it. I won’t bother repeating those, feel free to look them up in the search feature. Suffice it to say that the studies show you will live longer for your efforts.

Happy  volunteer month and happy one year for the Empowered Volunteer Blog!

Pin It

Make Volunteering Contagious



Social currency is the first item in the acronym STEPPS, from the book Contagious, Why Things Catch On, by Jonah Berger. This path or methodology is designed to allow for the formation of a strategy for those who want to get an idea across in social media in a very big way, through word of mouth.



The biggest way to engage a large segment of the population in your story about your volunteer efforts or groups is through social media, in all of its parts and pieces.



The six steps, or STEPPS are a mix  of logic and emotional promotional material coordinated when successful into a message which stays on topic and is both positive but also  reaches a huge segment of the target audience or even further.

Social currency, triggers, emotion, public, practical value, and stories are the principals involved in making a social media message go viral in this book.



The fist thing that most folks consider when they are thinking of their favorite charity or volunteer group is that the image must be protected  from any character stains or scams or any negative publicity. This is a very real danger. You must not be seen as in it for the money, but keep the focus on the charity and the message the charity represents.

As I write this the fringe political groups which have banded together in a loose association recently around an issue of constitutional vigilantism were on a virial wave that seemed to be growing fast and furious, with no end in sight and potentially climaxing in armed conflict with Federal Officers. Then the focus person who was riding the wave up to a seemingly endless crest spouted something very foolish, and worse politically damaging to his gathering of conservative politicians and news commentators. Now the many elements of the groups who supported him are abandoning him like he had a contagious disease!

Future posts will expand on these STEPPS and how to apply them to advance your charity, your positive message to the public, and hopefully to avoid the pitfalls of any negative issues.



Do you know who your volunteer group promoters are?



Pretty girl promoting lap top on the beach

Do you know who in your group or associated with your group is a honest to goodness promoter of your charity along with your group? How about your detractors? Are passives easy to identify?

This concept is very well presented in the business book by authors Fred Reichheld and Bob Markey, titled “The Ultimate Question 2.0, How Net Promoter Companies Thrive in a Customer-Driven World”. In the second of the book series on Net Promoter companies the authors continue and refine their ideas on how customers fall into one of three very distinct categories, promoter, passives, and detractors. They go into very good detail on how to use analysis and statistics to find each group and why it pays off to make this determination for various ROI  identifies or just in loyalty sales and future growth.




When you think of people who promote things, often what comes to mind is megaphones and loud speakers. But promoters are just people who manage to talk up your cause or your group in a positive way. They may wear hats or shirts with the name of the group as well. They are inspired and promotional of the groups message and image. They show passion for the cause.

These members identified as promoters and associated friends and family live the message of the cause and they are very strong advocates of the other members who are also promoters!



Promoters are the most likely to be in tune with the “voice of the customer”. This concept stems from the many management plans which promote quality and is the single biggest concept behind the empowered volunteer. For many of you in business or having taken business courses quality plans from the past included Total Quality Management, Six Sigma, Lean Manufacturing, and of course combinations of those labeled Lean/Six Sigma.


For a while during the 90′s even the U. S. Navy had Total Quality Leadership (TQL), with mainly the name as the only difference between TQM and TQL. Today the U. S. Navy has Six Sigma quality systems and reportedly embraces the concept of the empowered worker where it most certainly did not support lower rank empowerment before. This is because the sea going service was not mature enough to allow empowerment of it’s non-managerial members (read enlisted volunteer members) when TQL was instituted. From what I have read Six Sigma has made healthy contributions for today’s Navy!


In my past I have been trained in all of these and hold certifications in several continuous improvement training methods. They all have a concept that includes empowering the lowest worker with the most responsibility and accountability as well as listening to the customer, both internal and external customers. The empowered volunteer is simply another application of the empowered worker from Lean Manufacturing teaching.


All volunteer groups have the potential of supporting three types of customers, those from the cause they serve,  their group members and associated family, and the general public or businesses from which they develop relationships and derive much if not all of their resources.

So how do you identify promoter types for your group?

The authors of The Ultimate Question 2.0 suggest something so simple that it even applies outside industry and I am suggesting it would apply nicely to volunteer groups who want to add to their SWOT analysis. Survey your three customer groups and ask them one question, “Would you recommend this volunteer group to your friends?” On the survey have a range of responses from zero to ten, with ten being the best and zero the least. The authors say that a promoter is someone who responds with an eight or better.


Nothing brings in willing volunteers like proper passion for a worthy cause!

Knowing who your promoters are and being able to motivate them on the behalf of the group is worth more to the future success of your volunteer group than just about anything else you can do! If surveys are not in order another way to identify the promoters is through their passion observed over time!

I have written about passion in volunteer groups before, use the search feature on this blog to find some of those posts for further reading. 


Proper passion directed for worthy causes is one of the biggest draws for new members. When people enjoy themselves the volunteering becomes less work and more fun. People flock to fun things! Birds of a feather flock together and promoters like to be among other promoters and also to enrich or uplift passives into promoters! This is one feature of successful leadership which can’t be over emphasized. One really likable passionate promoter in a group can transform that group into a bunch of promoters over time. That is one huge way to ensure the future of the group will be a long and healthy one.

I will write in future posts about how to motivate and focus promoters as well as identifying and converting passives and detractors. The authors of The Ultimate Question 2.0 targeted their book towards business and the collection of data.  The subsequent data collection and analysis over time is much more trouble than the average volunteer group can justify. I will provide some ideas and suggestions for finding each group without all of the data search needed.

The empowered volunteer by the way would almost certainly be a labeled a promoter!





U. S. Military jobs still viewed as worthy by American Citizens

Navy Blue Angles


U. S. Navy Blue Angles

Top Gun, the movie and the Blue Angels are where many Americans get their image of the U.S. Navy life for those who volunteer to serve at sea. The movie, The Hunt For Red October is where many Americans first saw submarine life too. These jobs are not all easily transferable to a civilian counterpart. For those that are, many American citizens find the jobs to be worthy!

A recent Pew Research Center survey asked Americans which occupations contribute the most to society? Interestingly enough, the top of the list was the U.S. Military! As a retired USN member, I am glad the perceptions by the public are still positive.

Contrast this with the clergy at 37% or lawyers at 18% viewed as contributing to a lot to society and the military looks pretty good after all.

Teachers were second on this poll in rank with 72% saying teachers contribute “a lot” to society, right under the 78% the military received. I find it interesting that the two top of the list occupations are famous for suppressed wages over the last few decades. Medical doctors, Scientists and engineers rounded out the top 5 list of occupations that are seen by the public as contributing to society.

The bottom 5 in this poll were clergy, artists, journalists, business executives, and lawyers. That is a very diverse group of occupations to be seen by the public in such a negative way.

Helo's fly off US Navy ship

Helo’s fly off U. S. Navy ship

The United States Navy in particular, but the U.S. Military over all thrives on data, massive amounts of it.

On numerous ships entry ways during the 80′s and 90′s the saying, “In God I Trust, All Others Bring Data” could be read. The data is not just radar or sonar values and images on a screen, but all electronic emissions that can be detected. Powerful computers analyse the many electronic emissions on ships, planes and also on submarines. Today’s U.S. Navy thrives on data more than ever before.

The poll listed earlier was also full of data. But this data is a softer sort of data, it is public opinions which, unlike the tracking signature of an enemy submarine can change as fast as the wind. This kind of data is sorted by social scientists rather than an engineer with a digital readout, and it is constantly in a state of flux.

The way to deal with data on public opinions is to repeat the questions over time, to seek the questions within other people’s surveys, or a combination of the two along with detailed person to person surveys. This pattern helps to screen out the “noise” which is often picked up and often tries to mask the real value of the message.

In this case, the poll was a reference to the 2009 poll, with the top 5 occupations the public sees as most contributing to society all reflecting a decline in the amount of people who agreed with the latest poll. The U. S. Military went from 84% in 2009 to 78% in 2013. The other 4 top listed occupations also saw drops but the margin of difference was not as great.

Silent Service

U.S. Navy Submarine Service cap, with dolphins insignia

So the U.S. Military can be happy they are seen by American’s as a worthy occupation, but less so than in 2009. Perceptions of the military by the public vary not only by region but also by social status and even by education. This is the nature of soft data that reflects opinions.

When a military vet leaves the service the choice to stay in a military area is crucial to his or her job prospects. Special security clearances aside, the choice of staying in an area of high military presence can work against many job opportunities. The is particularly true for the enlisted ranks.

advanced technology

Outside of defense work, advanced concepts technology seldom translates into job prospects

When a hiring manager knows the applicant was enlisted and is familiar with the background that characteristic implies, the mental limits which are automatically placed on the applicant in the interview work against the hard chargers who want to break out of their old patterns. They are already cataloged and thus limited before they can even try to articulate their potential.



U.S. Submarine, top portion called the sail.

Many civilians can’t conceive that any senior enlisted were managers, even if the job description justifies that title and the job applicant has the educational requirements as well. They only see Military Officers as managers!

Advanced Technology Subs

U.S. Submarine at sea

In many cases if the applicant is retired military, the interview process will mention that the compensation package will be dropped accordingly, supposedly making the applicant more likely to go further in the hiring process many of the interviewers will claim. This routine tactic is often used to separate those who can be forced to comply with those who are still independent enough to not like being treated like a second class citizen. Those who object are simply not selected.

Naval Officers only can fly

Only officers can fly in the U.S. Military

This is even more true of those military enlisted who obtain four year degrees, and worse yet for those who dare to obtain a Masters degree while they are in the service. Time and again the interviewer for positions that relate to the enlisted occupation find little or no value in the applicants education, often openly admitting to the applicant that the degrees are seen negatively in the interview, claiming they are now over qualified, whatever that means. Unfortunately only very high status institutions granting degrees seem to impress most hiring managers, state schools don’t seem to impress them the slightest bit.

In another recent poll by the Society for Human Resource Management showed that recent college grads are not viewed by the hiring managers in a real positive light.

They cite a lack of proficiency in English grammar or spelling as well as speaking. They also lament the lack of “professionalism” or “work ethic” in the recent grads. Nearly half of the respondents said they detected a lack of business acumen.

This would beg the question that if the recent college grads are seen as lacking a work ethic, something that most successful military members find to be habits by the time they decide to leave the military, then it would seem this makes for a very effective transition for hiring managers, right?

Hire the ambitious enlisted leaving the military who have managed to get their education and the best of both worlds should emerge, right? I wish it were that easy.

It is easy to find data showing that those leaving the military are not being hired at the rate of their age equivalent civilian counter parts with a degree or without a degree. The public might see the military as contributing to society but the hiring managers don’t see the same value in their hiring practices for those leaving the military, with a degree or without.

Military officers leaving the service fair far better on all fronts than enlisted.

All U.S. Military Officers have at least an undergraduate degree in modern times. Many companies specialize in hiring junior officers who leave the service after their first service contract. They are seen as high quality hires. They are automatically conferred high status, particularly if they graduated from a high status college.

The public’s perception of the military is sliding and the hiring levels of those leaving the service is not rising. This is a problem. When the draw down from the present wars we have going on currently produce a wave of service terminations and huge numbers of service members attempt to enter the work force, with very few mechanisms in place for such great numbers, we will then have more data on how we treat our returning veterans than we may wish.

Even the simple data observer can see that a potential problem is coming in the future with this scenario. But I don’t know of anyone with a data driven solution. Unemployment will rise but that only reflects a short term issue. The long term solution is from this point of view not apparent.

The empowered volunteer can make use of this post’s information by actively engaging all military in his or her area. Know their issues and their strengths.


It would be hard to over estimate the leadership potential for many of the military vets you find around the country.

Even if many civilian hiring managers don’t seem to see their leadership potential, let me tell you for the majority it is there ready and often untapped. They are often just waiting for the right opportunity to engage and help. All the empowered volunteer should need to do is to make them an offer they can’t refuse!


Thanksgiving Day parade volunteers



The question I have been asked is do the volunteers of the many holiday parades incur the same health benefits as the volunteers who are engaged full time with groups supporting charities? The answer is that I have yet to find studies or evidence to support this idea.



There is no doubt that the many volunteers for the various parades for so many holidays around the world contribute tons of effort and time to their parade day event. Their passion for the event is intense from my research, so they are focused and driven, just as other main stream civic groups or fraternal groups for their charity.

These temporary volunteers also benefit from the networking aspects noted in earlier posts on this site!

The intense pressure to produce some floats or other group presentations gives people practice in leadership and group organizing as well. Each member for these parades to work needs to subvert their own individuality for the greater performance, just as in many sports. To sum it up, everyone can benefit from the experience, but does it also translate into the health benefits of the group charity supporting volunteers?

images (48)

It remains to be studied I think whether the health benefits already documented for the charity supporting fraternal, civic, and veterans groups also translates to temporary volunteering opportunities.

American Legion

American Legion


Memorial Day parades by veterans groups in America which many veteran groups participate in are supported by members such as the American Legion, with the symbol above. Often these members engage in activities all year long and only rise to the public view during the parades. These are the types of volunteers which the health producing benefits have been documented.




St. Patrick Day parades are  common in the United States. Very often you find a cooperation between well known fraternal groups to put on the parade. I have personally participated in a few as a member of the Shrine, a subdivision of the Freemasons.


The Roman Catholic fraternal group, The Knights of Columbus in my case was the main sponsor for the parade in the Tidewater area of Virginia. This certainly qualifies its members for the health benefits since they are serving all year long but raising their public awareness on this one day for the documented health benefits of volunteering.

Parades during the American professional football bowl games have short but intense opportunities for volunteers to help with float assemblies, the flowers and other aspects which are so amazing to see on the day the events are held. Other holiday parades also offer opportunities for volunteering on a short term basis. Many parades around the world function much the same way, except many of those have religious overtones attached which are for the most part absent from American holiday parades.


The caption above is from Volterra, a festival parade in Italy associated with a cross bow championship. Brazil also has a famous parade, Carnival. Parades from around the world often function with the participation of volunteers in some way or fashion. Most parades would not be what they are if volunteers did not participate.

Many of these parades in America rely on already established volunteer groups to step in and help with the events.




Knights of Pyhthias

Knights of Pyhthias






In the above caption, the Order of the Eastern Star, a group associated with Freemasonry which has both men and women members, the very Christian theme is emphasized.

Church groups, youth groups, and in some cases the fraternal, civic, and veterans groups also volunteer their services. It is natural that a call goes out for temporary volunteers to help with a quick infusion of labor though, and these temporary members are the subject of our question in this post. Do they, even on a temporary basis gain the health benefits associated with those already documented for the main stream groups who focus mainly on supporting charities?

My gut feeling is that it is likely. But until the subject is studied properly, we can only speculate.




Local volunteer

The Top 6 traits of effective volunteers

Volunteers for groups who support worthy charities need many characteristics in order to maximize their potential. This list is not all inclusive. It is meant to be a highlight or start rather than an end. See if you agree or disagree with this list.

Time management

1. Time management is the first and foremost of the group due to the nature of those the empowered volunteer often recruits new applicants from. If the volunteers can manage their time to effectively put in time for the group, both the volunteer and the group loses. Simply putting a dues card in one’s purse or wallet is not sufficient to bring on the health benefits we have laid out as one of the strongest reasons to join a volunteer group which one is passionate about.

patience and persistence

2. Persistence is one trait that is often overlooked in this field of volunteering for charity groups. But in reality is is mandatory. In volunteer groups seldom is something changed quickly, change is effected over time and by a gradual building of consensus until the reasoning seems overwhelming clear to enough of the membership that they bring about the new change. The driver for this change is nearly always persistence by one or more future visionaries and plenty of it.

even tempered

3. Even tempered volunteers are nearly always superior to those who are quick to anger and live with their emotions on their shirt sleeve. When someone is unflappable and keeps their focus on the goal without all of the drama that many seem to feel is necessary along the way the goal is already half way achieved.  Don’t confuse passion with daily drama queens who like to sideline everyone else at the expense of the goal. Passion can be directed and focused without daily dips into the drama pool of unnecessary sidelines. Empowered volunteers will by the nature of their job learn to focus their passions without wasting energy on daily drama. It comes with the territory that they have to rise above the rough waves and keep their weathered eye on the goals the group has set.

social responsibility

4. Socially responsible volunteers are more often the ones who drive the most efforts and achieve the most results. This is not a firm rule, someone who is economically and politically against social responsibility can perform for a group at a high level of influence and impact. But if you survey most volunteers, the vast majority of effective members in groups supporting a charity are more likely to be socially responsible in their view points, if not their economic thinking and their politics.

caring for small plant

5. Caring from volunteers is an emotional feature that most have in abundance. To care is to be more human and more alive to human opportunities for helping others outside of your family or church where it is expected. Those who don’t care usually are against volunteering, preferring actions which often go against societies needs or best interests and very often have selfish interests substituted for societies best interests.

little vrs big

6. Strong convictions is a valuable trait for all volunteers, but particularly for an empowered volunteer. If your convictions are strong enough, and your data sufficient to overcome the local resistance to change, you just might make a difference earlier than later. Don’t confuse strong convictions with religious fanatics who are loud and public, some of the most influential people in a given field are strong and persistent without the loud drama of media coverage or other highlight real material.


Loyalty inspired to new heights

Loyalty in volunteering 2


volunteers in person

Former U.S. President Carter reflects his volunteering in person through several charities, but he also inspires loyalty in others through his leading by example. Mother Teresa in the headline caption devoted her life to volunteering for her church and inspired huge amounts of people to look at life differently and volunteering in particular. Such inspiration breeds loyalty.

To continue our discussion of how to translate this idea of building loyalty into a charity consider the following. What if you are representing a charity that is not so large and wide spread? Start thinking outside the box. I will give you an example that I happen to have considered at one time. Look for celebrities that have local or at least state wide appeal. Sports, authors, artists, college coaches, perhaps local TV personalities. Get from 3 to 10 to attend some kind of fund raising event for your charity and then make sure your volunteers and special guests get access of some kind the night before!

Iowa Flag

Pretend you are in Iowa of all places. There are no major professional sports franchises in the entire state of Iowa, so how would you pull this off? By the way, there are several other states without any major professional sport franchises besides Iowa so this example can be applied all over the this country and even the world.

Well, start with the college players who went on to the professional ranks and then perhaps they even returned to the state after their playing days are over. I have lived in several states and the newspapers are always covering players who have any ties to that state and area, either living there or played college there. Start contacting them and as you suggest ideas such as chili cook offs or anything else you can to get a few of them together just roll with what ever idea seems to work. Don’t neglect the locals who will pay tickets for the event and the meet and greet the evening before, know your area and their interests.


In Iowa wrestling is huge so try to get one or two from that sport too in this example.


Get a wide variety, from young to old and from various sports. To continue this Iowa scenario there were a few Olympians from the state in the last Olympics, see if one or two will visit. Try for Dan Gable, who won his weight class in wrestling in the Olympics, coached for the Iowa Hawkeyes setting tons of records there and also wrestled for Iowa State. Perhaps some local college players in sports?


Be sure to get someone who is younger to appeal to those who are not in tune with past Olympic history or even past college history. Vary the group if possible to attract the widest audience possible. Shawn Johnson is another Iowan who could fit this criteria.

Is there a local author that could broaden the appeal of the visiting and hopefully money spending public for your event? Let him or her sell some of their books too!

Perhaps a local TV personality who can also ensure your event has some local news coverage? Take care, but a local politician for variety if that would not be too polarizing?

Remember, these personalities don’t have to belong to your group, they just have to believe your group is worthy.

Bruce Jenner

What happens if the major hitters all opt out, the recent Olympians and even the older ones like Bruce Jenner or Dan Gable who have well known Iowa connections and still draw crowds?

Set your sights on another route. Having researched this scenario I would consider local boys or girls who made it big but are now retired. Narrow your focus to a few good men or women, and don’t forget business leaders! A local Iowa boy who made the big time is Bob Harlan was the president of the Green Bay Packers for 18 years and responsible for the teams financial stability! The personalities don’t have to have played the sport, just be recognizable.

Kampman signing stuff

In my research Arron Kampman turned up, local Iowa boy who made it to the University of Iowa and was drafted by the Green Bay Packers, before leaving to play for the Jacksonville Jaguars. He also has a life beyond sports. Kampman is a role model in other important ways and this is why I chose him when I researched his potential for this post. He is the 2012 Robert D. Ray Pillar of Character Award winner, an honor given by the nonprofit Character Counts In Iowa.

I have actually met Kampman briefly in a YMCA some years ago, he does do volunteer work I know from my research and he is a very positive guy. If your charity fits his views of the world, perhaps that would work? Combine this with a local coach or other noteworthy person and whatever they find worthy to do for your charity, organize if and run with it. Keep in mind, there are many good people out there who would help if they are just asked in every state, I just picked Iowa to make the challenge more broad since they don’t have any sports teams.

Less family oriented

Remember to keep it family oriented and avoid any visits from questionable magazines or even professional cheerleaders, as this turns off the family aspect of the event for the moms of the visiting families.

The empowered volunteers of the world should not only strive to help build memberships for their charities but they should drive some other events that help build up a loyal base of support staff and also a willing public who sees that charity as worthy. Loyalty is built one step at a time but mainly by delivering to your supporting public what they want, fun and entertainment while supporting a worthy organization. Go build that loyalty today!


Ronald Reagan

Loyalty in Volunteering

Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan generated loyalty in politics that was unheard of at the time. A former actor, he was best known as the great communicator! When he died, the outpouring of loyal leaders as well as citizens was amazing. Keep in mind that the torch bearer for the original conservative movement in the 1980′s had changed parties from Democrat to Republican. So even this man had to work his way through political minefields to get settled, all while keeping a loyal fan base later called Reagan Democrats.

Loyalty in sports is legendary. Sports fans around the world will stay with their teams through thick and thin. From basket ball to base ball to football, loyal fans are generated by the skilled use of marketing as much as winning records.

Green Bay Packers

For some who root for the underdogs, the Green Bay Packers are a choice that has resulted in sports bars catering to Packer fans in most major metropolitan cities in the United States! That is a fan base folks, with tons of loyalty to go around. Several other sports franchises would love to have such a loyal set of fans spread all over the world, in football or other sports.

How did the Packers generate such a fan base and more importantly how can those lessons apply to our empowered volunteers? Let’s examine this a bit more to find out.

Football appeals to a wide audience, including women and even high status people. It isn’t a one social class attraction. This is true of volunteering as well. Interestingly enough, the very successful are often giving of their time on weekends for volunteering, just as football fans devote their time on weekends for their team in stadiums across the United States.

From a recent Forbes article I read recently, “Laura Vanderkam, author of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast (Portfolio, 2012) and What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend (Portfolio, 2012), says successful people know that weekends are actually the secret weapon in professional success. “You need to hit Monday ready to go,” she says. “To do that, you need weekends that rejuvenate you, rather than exhaust or disappoint you. Cross-training makes you a better athlete, and likewise, exercise, volunteer work, spiritual activities, and hands-on parenting make you a better worker than if you just worked all the time.” The bold on volunteer work is mine in this quote.


If the rich and successful see volunteer work as worthy, so should everyone who is aspiring to be successful, no matter how far they have managed to get towards that goal.

With the health benefits of volunteering already established long ago, another study furthers that truth.


A national survey of 3,351 adults conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of UnitedHealth Group demonstrates that volunteering is good for your health.

Here are some of the takeaways from this research: “Companies that encourage and sponsor volunteer activities are also likely to engender goodwill and loyalty among employees. And of the employed volunteers in the survey who volunteered through their workplace, 81% agreed that volunteering together strengthens relationships among colleagues.

The survey suggests that nationally, more than half of all employees have volunteered. At UnitedHealth Group, 81 percent of employees and 96 percent of executives volunteered last year, so they clearly believe in the benefits—both tangible and intangible—of having employees engaged in their communities.” Again, the bold word loyalty is mine in the  above quote.

How does all of this help the empowered volunteer? If the wealthy and successful find volunteering worthy, then it can apply to anyone else who aspires to be either wealthy or successful.


It most certainly can apply to the poor also, but the health benefits for the poor will outweigh the other aspects gained from volunteering. The wealthy have access to better health management so this nails down what volunteering can also do for them, it is the social and intangible features they are looking for, as well as networking.

Loyalty, what is it worth? Well, ask the sports franchises who have had winning seasons but then when they are down their fans abandon them.

Fan loyalty is a study all in itself and I am not going to dwell on it very long, I only offer to point out that for the only major sports franchise in the U.S. who are still owned by the public and not owned by one wealthy owner the Green Bay Packers have a loyal fan base second to none! Other sports have the NY Yankees with a great loyal fan base that travels well. There are other teams that would qualify for high fan loyalty, such as the Dallas Cowboys.

So how did these teams do this and how can it apply to volunteering? First off, the Packers use volunteers throughout the year to help with their program. They even pay low wages for volunteers to shovel by hand the entire stadium every time a snow fall threatens to interfere with the next game! They always have to turn away the volunteers they have so many show up when they put out the word for help! Talk about loyal.

The second thing is that winning helps, a bunch. Consistent winning helps enormously. 

The Packers have several TV and radio programs every week where players make guest appearances and fans can meet and get signed stuff from that player. So if you are willing to wait an average of 3 hours before taping the show, you can meet a player or the coach. Pretty nice, and this is NOT the norm in every NFL football program by the way. Some teams I have found out don’t even support a short program each week for the coach to meet the fans live! Wow, what a missed opportunity to build loyalty.




How do you apply this kind of thinking to volunteering?

Well, an example of one group’s success is the Shriner’s promotion of their Shrine East/West Football game by inviting the public to enjoy dinner and a presentation with the college players who are hoping to be drafted a few months from the game to visit with fans the night before the game. It costs money for the event, but most of us never get close to real players in this type of setting. Meeting the players and getting photo’s and autographs is exciting and intimate, just like being in the audience of a  Packer TV show, no matter which of the shows you visit each week. It promotes goodwill and loyalty! Fans love it and so do volunteers.

Several volunteer groups have sponsored race cars over the last few years. NASCAR fans are so loyal and they are very energetic. For the volunteers who manage to get passes to the drivers area or pit row, the effect and resulting loyalty is dramatic. It lasts for a very long time.

Loyalty is valuable, it is coveted and it is required for long term success in most organizations. In the next post we will continue exploring how to generate loyalty.

Americans United

Social-Media for the Empowered Volunteer



For most people social-media is like the moon, it is available and useful, up to a point. But like the moon, which is something that really doesn’t add value to our life directly, only through it’s influence on the tides and the earths rotation social-media is all around us without most of us really using its power fully to enrich our lives. We can’t capitalize on the moon directly from an individual perspective and the usual posting on linkedin or facebook or twitter only goes so far.

However, for the empowered volunteer social-media is something that with a bit of direction and effort within your group, you can most certainly make an impact for the betterment of your group. Social-media has the potential to not only influence others, but also to motivate and inspire others when presented well and with the proper timing.

In the United States and also in other parts of the world everything involving “e” is being used and expanded at a fantastic pace. E-commerce is very popular and growing. Cyber Monday, the Monday after the famous Black Friday for retail sails is another factor for e-commerce. In the United States Cyber Monday is predicted to scale upwards in total sales from previous years, despite the recent hit retail sales and foot traffic took from the government shutdown.  If it involves the internet, it is social-media involved or in many cases driven.

How does this impact the empowered volunteer? It represents a fantastic opportunity to leverage the power of social-media with the message from the empowered volunteer to more people than could be marketed to before. Nearly all of the major volunteer groups have a face book page. Many other social-media have twitter or other accounts which help them drive their message to the public.Many groups have a website for public viewing and access or education.


Unfortunately today many people are used to “sound bites” which contain very little content. These short pieces of information thus compete with large content producers for attention, making the potential for sensationalism very real. Tabloids and twitter feeds depend on sensationalism for attention. The influence on regular journalism is felt and in competition for readers so some influence is bound to be observed.

Marketing and advertising rely on short but compelling content to drive sales and foot traffic for their clients. It is proven that  marketing campaigns can change peoples minds on topics ranging from political issues to purchasing alternatives. Today advertising can be found in nearly every aspect of our lives, on the internet, park benches, the sides of buses, and  even in the sky trailing behind planes over crowded events or beaches.


In the world of volunteers and charities, sponsoring events or school related teams is a long and cherished tradition which is highly subject to how well the economy is doing. Advertising as a form of branding the charity or even to drive foot traffic for an event is more rare and even rarer still is advertising for memberships. In some sections of the United States Freemasons have a bumper sticker which reads, 2BE1 Ask1. This slogan was conceived long before vanity license plates and texting, which make it seem easy in today’s e-world.



Besides an occasional photo in the local section of the newspaper or perhaps some favorable write ups in their blog or website, most charities don’t get much public attention or viewing on the internet. This is a missed opportunity to present the message of the group and also to maintain the image in the public mindset. If the public doesn’t know of the group the don’t think of joining!

American Legion

American Legion

In the United States several veterans groups are making headway into the social-media public notice. They are taking the message of disabled vets to the public awareness like never before seen in this country. The way they are doing this is a combination of using high profile celebrities, social-media messaging, public service awareness commercials (PSA’s), and through their websites twitter messages, to name only a few of the paths for keeping the cause in the public eye.

Some social-media causes have blogs, many of which can be found at Alltop.com, a fantastic site with access to literally hundreds of blogs relating to nearly everything you can think of, including this blog, EVRA! If you have a topic of interest, you are very likely to find something about it here, or close if not an exact match. I am very proud to have the Alltop emblem on this site, it shows a certain quality that hopefully readers identify with.

For the empowered volunteer, it is important to be not only aware of how social media can aid in their membership building efforts, but also how some of them can focus on your cause like nothing else can, penetrating the market segment for you in real time.

An example of this would be a sudden need for a food bank around Thanksgiving Day suddenly finding the need this year outstripped the supply of donations. Through a combination of Linkedin, Facebook, and twitter several fraternal or civic groups could spring into action and alert the general public about the need without spending a ton of money on a new PSA or in general advertising. If the cause is found worthy, the need and those who care will drive the message for you, eliminating the need for a great supply of energy or funding. How cool is that?

color in a black and white world


Every now and then you need to bring some color into a black and white world. The empowered volunteer is just the person to invigorate a volunteer group with equally ambitious new members for that special project that needs focus and attention.

Government shutdown

Survival of the fittest volunteers?




With our government in shutdown, what is the average person who is not wealthy enough to survive the looming crisis to do? Birds of a feather flock together is one bit of wisdom that could be helpful. Find groups of like minded souls who are in the same boat and work together. This could and should include volunteering in good charity focused groups. The positive nature of volunteering is a great infusion of energy and moral in troubled times.



For a few years now the government policies which brought on the great American worker decline, accurately predicted by Ross Parrot and succinctly stated in his prediction of NAFTA as the “Great sucking sound” that would be heard for years to come has done just that. Tax incentives allowed many businesses to refuse labor disputes with the threat of off shoring, something even practiced by our recent GOP candidate for U. S. President.

The new divide between the very rich top 7% and the rest of the lesser economic developed people comprising the bottom 93% presents huge economic issues which will not be cured even if the current government shutdown is somehow settled. So what is a regular person to do who is not wealthy?

We are according to many entering a new economic era where only the very quick will find success, all others will be left behind. I don’t necessarily believe this but it is important to be prepared, just as the Boy Scout motto suggests.

start with water

Start small and volunteer where there is a need. Lead a group, raise money for a project, get into the trenches and get something done. It will help you, the charity your group supports and it will do wonders for your self worth. The challenges you will face, and they will be many will show you what works and what doesn’t in a safe environment where you can afford to try out new things.

empty stores


If we as citizens do nothing, the result is going to be empty store fronts much more than we have now. This is our harsh reality.


green economy


The so called “green economy” was cited as something to hang our hat on for economic growth. If you are able, find a way to help your charity with this feature and learn how to apply it to other businesses. If tax incentives in your state help, all the better. But this is one innovative way to help charities reduce costs while the empowered volunteer figures out the variables involved so they can apply the lessons learned to other places in need.



If we all as individuals take one or two steps towards helping a volunteer group in some way, the health benefits I have posted about several times will be realized and the domino effect can start. The many other benefits to the individual will help drive a collective social impact that is positive in nature. The general negative taste that the last U.S Presidential election left on most citizens is still in abundance. The national moral is as low as the economy and the polls reflecting the popularity of Congress.



It was not too long ago that the state of California gave out IOU’s to it’s citizens. This was shocking to many people, including me. If Congress doesn’t manage to find a path to sanity soon this could be the future for senior citizens and anyone who is linked to the government support system in any way.


happy volunteer


Lastly, to end this post on a good note, Bloomberg Businessweek reported that the Gross National Happiness Report showed that the top countries for happiness world wide showed a strong correlation between happiness and having a strong network of friends and loved ones. This was true even when factoring in a big pile of money for affecting quality of life, something that should shock all venture capitalists.

The United States came in # 17, and the Nordic countries led the way at the top of the list. So socialism, feared and loathed by some political people in the U. S. political sectors seems to have a positive impact on its citizens even if they do have government health care? Weird how that works, giving the people what they want and need I mean.

Volunteers should lead the way when it comes to support networks and their ability to tap into them for support. If you find yourself thinking otherwise, get busy on building your network.