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Book Review: 365 Ideas for Recruiting, Retaining, Motivating and Rewarding Your Volunteers

on Fri, 09/17/2010 - 00:00

Here’s a review of yet another new book on volunteer management – 365 Ideas for Recruiting, Retaining, Motivating and Rewarding Your Volunteers. It’s so exciting to see so much being published in our field!

I think this is a great “starter book” for new leaders of volunteers. It broadly covers many of the key topics in volunteer management, while providing a unique focus on creating a culture of success and empowering volunteers. One of the best aspects of the book is the real-life stories and ideas from volunteer leaders interspersed throughout. The book doesn’t delve very deeply into risk management issues, but this topic is expertly covered by a number of other publications, such as those by Linda Graff.

I chatted with author Sunny Fader via email to learn more about her and her book. I hope you enjoy our conversation.


Energize, Inc. (EI): What was your motivation to write this book?

Sunny Fader (SF): I am a freelance writer and was surfing the net looking for a writing assignment when I came across a request for writers from Atlantic Publishing. Most of the titles they posted were for “How To” books, and I was about to move on when I saw this long title on a subject that was near and dear to my heart – volunteerism. I couldn’t resist, even though the title suggested they were looking for what I call a “list book” – a book that just lists a bunch of ideas. I thought I might talk them into doing something more meaningful.

I wanted to write this book because I am passionately supportive of nonprofit organizations that work for the public good. I have spent the majority of my professional life writing and field producing television specials and fund raising films for nonprofit organizations. I have also managed a community orchestra on Bainbridge Island, raised money for educational programs for the Santa Fe Symphony, and served on the board of a remarkable non-profit rape crisis and trauma center in that city. I also personally know as friends many professionals involved in the not-for-profit sector, people who have gotten the concept of working with volunteers right…and some who have not. In other words, I have accumulated a lot of knowledge about what makes nonprofits successful (with volunteers and other aspects of their mission) over the years, and I saw this book as a way to share some of what I have learned.

EI: What makes 365 Ideas… unique?

SF: I think it’s unique in that puts the volunteer first, positions him or her, not as a resource (as so many books seem to do) but as a living, breathing, important member of the nonprofit’s team. The book doesn’t spout theory; it shares seminal experiences that volunteer managers and coordinators can relate to. I invited people who are doing things right to share their experiences, knowledge and skills, then I expanded on what they had to say, hopefully in accessible language, with further examples and ideas. I also tried to steer the reader to resources that could help them do their job better.

EI: If you could give one piece of advice to a new leader of volunteers, what would it be?

SF: Treat your volunteers AND the staff who need to work with them with respect. Value them both, and help them value each other. Create a family in your organization that is inclusive for both your volunteers and your staff, and cultivate a culture of civility so both will be eager to be and remain a part of that family. Doing this will create a productive loyalty in both staff and volunteers.

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