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Manage Volunteers Across Generations

May 29, 2018



Florence May
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  • 8/9/2019 Manage Volunteers Across Generations




    Managing Event Volunteers

    Across GenerationsDo You Need

    Technically savvy volunteers?

    Passionate volunteers who believe in the mission?

    Dependable volunteers who will show up every day? On time? Consistently?

    Willing volunteers to do the job assigned to them?

    By Florence May

  • 8/9/2019 Manage Volunteers Across Generations



    During the past 15 years wevewitnessed our generations o volunteers(and sta) come together in support oestivals and events. Volunteers come

    with a wide variety o motivations, skills,and expectations.

    Take a ew minutes. Consider thegenerational similarities and dierences

    that infuence sound volunteer manage-ment best practices.Refect on your volunteers, colleagues,

    amily and riends as you peruse the listbelow o commonly reported generationaltraits. Are these work ethics and valuesconsistent with your personal observations?

    Silent Generation(aka Children of the Depression/WWII/The Greatest Generation)

    Born between 1922-1945, the SilentGeneration is the oldest and most experi-enced volunteer group. They look oropportunities to keep busy and connected.

    Events and estivals can gain rom theirskills, knowledge and leadership.Silent Generation Volunteer Work

    Ethic and ValuesDedication to their jobFollow the rulesRespect or authorityPreer hierarchal organizationPatient (dont need instant gratication)

    Traditional expectationsMay use computers to communicate

    with children and grandchildren butmore cautious about technology than

    younger generations.

    Boomers(aka Baby Boomers/

    The Largest Generation)Born between 1946-1964, the Boom-

    ers are beginning to turn 60 years o age.Boomers seek active retirements including

    community volunteer opportunities.Volunteer Work Ethic and Values

    May have workaholic tendenciesLoyal to organizationsSupport personal causesHard workers (want graticationrom work)Seek sel-improvement and growthLike technology that works andmakes their lives easier.

    Generation X(aka Gen Xers, Baby Bust, Comeof Age around the Millenium)

    Born between 1965-1980, Gen X is thesmallest o the workorce generations.This population volunteers to organizeevents, becomes participant undraisers orhelps promote their avorite nonprots viasocial media and their personal networks,

    according to research completed by DanBrown, Jewish Philanthropy.

    Gen X Volunteer Work Ethic and Values

    Seek balance between work, volunteerismand personal lieLoyal to peopleRelatively inormal team workand volunteer styleSel reliant

    Want to have un at work andvolunteer activitiesLike to work with latest technology

    Aware o diversity and think globally.

    Generation Y(aka Nexters, Millenials, EchoBoomers, Generation www.)

    Born between 1981-2002, Generation Yemerges as the second largest populationgroup in the workplace. They are remak-ing volunteer expectations with theiremphasis on active participation, eectiveuse o time and achievement

    Volunteer Work Ethic and Values

    Demand balance between work, volun-teerism and personal lieSel-assured and achievementocusedLoyal to ideas, causes and productsStrong morals and community serviceEager make a positive impact while

    volunteeringTolerantExpect the latest technologyExpect an active voice in decisionmaking and planning

    Want immediate eedback.

    Jennier J. Deal, a research scientist withthe Center or Creative Leadership statesthere are also negative stereotypes or eacho the generations the Silents are ossil-ized, the Boomers are narcissistic, the Gen

    Xers are slackers, and the much maligned

  • 8/9/2019 Manage Volunteers Across Generations



    Gen Yers are even more narcissistic thanthe Boomers. Motivational speaker Bruce

    Tulgan notes sarcastically, The Gen Y, likeGeneration X, is on ast-orward but withtheir sel-esteem on steroids.

    Ouch!Take heart, regardless o which

    generation you belong, it is dicult tond sources that agree precisely on thegenerational names, time span or evendenitively on the positive or negativetraits. Cuspers, or those people that all atolder or younger ends o their generation,may aliate with another generation.

    There is even a sub group o Baby Boom-ers that are oten reerred to as GenerationJones, a term coined by Jonathan Pontell.

    According to Wikipedia, These are thepeople born at the tail end o the BabyBoom between 1954 and 1965. The nameGeneration Jones has several connotations,including a large anonymous generation, akeeping up with the Joneses competitive-ness and the slang word jones or jone-sing, meaning a yearning or craving.

    Many authors, including Bruce Tulgano Rainmaker Thinking Inc., emphasizethe importance o the generational mix o

    your organization and what it means orthe uture o your organization. He statesthat you need to understand the ourgenerations in the workplace todayeachat dierent lie stages, each with confict-ing perspectives, expectations, and needs.

    You need to learn the best practices tooster understanding, leverage strengths,

    avoid clashes, improve productivity, andmaximize teamwork. Tulgen stresses thatyou must turn age diversity into a strate-gic advantage or your organization.

    Generational similarities and dierencesimpact our volunteer management strategiesparticularly in the areas o organization, op-erations, technology and communications.

    OrganizationBased on seven years o research, Jenni-

    er J. Deal states that all the working agegenerations want:

    To Feel valued 85%Recognition and appreciation 74%

    A Supportive environment 73% A Capable workorce 72%

    To Be part o a team 68%

    Her ndings are presented in the newbook, Retiring the Generation Gap: How

    Employees Young & Old Can Find CommonGround where she provides examples ogenerational similarities.

    Leaders must be trustworthy. Dierentgenerations do not have notably dierentexpectations o their leaders. Above allelse, people o all generations wantleaders they can trust.

    Deal also claries that value, recogni-tion and respect may take on a dierentnuance depending on the volunteersgeneration.

    Everyone wants respect, but the genera-

    tions dont dene it in the same way. In thestudy, older individuals talked about respectin terms o giving my opinions the weight Ibelieve they deserve, while younger respon-dents characterized respect as listen to me,pay attention to what I have to say.

    Regardless o age, know thy audience!

    OperationsEective volunteer management

    requires that you take into considerationthose mature volunteers who may requesta more traditional task structured

    volunteer experience vs. the youngervolunteers who may desire more say

    in their volunteer activities.All o your helpers want to understand

    the expectations that come with thevolunteer experience. It is normal or all agegroups to expect volunteer job opportuni-ties to be communicated with job descrip-tions, time requirements and restrictions.

    Technology & CommunicationsThe majority o people ages 16-64

    have relatively positive eelings aboutnew technologies including cell phones,PDAs, e-mail and the internet according toa recent survey by the PEW Research Center.

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    Florence May is President of TRS The Registration System. TRSprovides expert consultation andtechnological support for volunteermanagers. TRS clients include the2011 North Texas Super Bowl LOC,Kentucky Derby Festival, Indy 500 Fes-tival, Ottawa Bluesfest, 2010 NCAAMens Final Four, SeaFair, 2010 WorldEquestrian Games, Calgary Habitat forHumanity and Shambhala.

    The Xers and Yers expect the timeeciencies o communicating real timechanges, registering or volunteer posi-tions on line and selecting when theyare available to work. They are requentlyopen to showing support or causes andtheir avorite organizations through socialnetworking sites or blogs.

    The PEW Research indicate Seniors,while generally positive about e-mail andinternet, are not as accepting o socialnetworking sites or blogs. Privacy andsecurity ears continue to be major concerns.

    Seniors may be open to new technol-ogy but many estival and event websitesfunk basic Senior Friendliness tests. Themajority o website complaints rom mature

    volunteers are still largely related type sizeand uzzy onts. We need to create sites withlarger, cleaner type or the sight impaired.

    This prominent problem was broughtto the table recently by a vision-impaired

    Ottawa Bluesest volunteer registrant. Sheunderlined some common problems andshared some important advice. Creatingan easily legible site starts with:

    Using a minimum ont size o 12 point.Designing with distinguishable colors,preerably black text on a white back-ground.Using onts like Arial and Verdana thatprovide a cleaner experience whenmagnied.

    She also shed light on some importanttechnical applications that made herregistration process easier. She loved

    pull down options but also admittedthat leader lines are helpul. The site didnot timeout on her, which allowed su-cient time to complete each registrationsection. Finally, the system provided eld

    verication to ensure she had completedall the required elds. We also learnedthat implementing these changes made itsimpler or completely blind registrantsto use programs such as Jaws or Window-eyes to successully register online.

    Websites should also be compatiblewith hearing enhancement sotware. Andthese programs are not just or the SilentGeneration, they are also or the Boomers.

    Online volunteer registration is rarely aproblem or any o the generations. How-ever, all organizations should only collectthe personal inormation required or the

    volunteer position on their registrationsites. Seniors oten have more concernsabout private inormation security but allgenerations should only be required tosupply necessary data.

    Volunteer managers need to careullyconsider the registrant inormation required

    or participation. Do you really need toknow birth dates, drivers license numbersor social security numbers? I you do, makecertain that your online registration system

    will encrypt this sensitive inormation.

    Working TogetherYou know your volunteers and their

    needs better than anyone else. It is ttingto conclude with the words o PaulaGregorowicz, The Paula G Company.

    The solution to generational dier-ences has to do more with respectingpeople as people and unique individualsthan any prescribed ormula.