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President's Message: It's All About Volunteers -- You
2003, Q3 (June 25, 2007)
By Meredith Blackwelder

“It’s all about volunteers!” That’s the message I got at STC’s 50th Annual Conference in Dallas from Mary V. Merrill, an expert on volunteer management. Merrill spoke to over 100 chapter and society leaders, saying that dedicated leadership was one of STC’s biggest successes. Merril’s research reveals that 95% of people who volunteer are asked personally, rather than volunteering on their own. I found one of the trends reported by Merril particularly interesting: We live in a time of “episodic volunteering:” a preference for short-term commitments.

This year, I encourage our chapter leaders to ask more members personally to volunteer their time in smaller chunks. This will avoid volunteer burnout and will play to episodic volunteering. We will ask members to be “30 minute volunteers.” What does that mean?
  • Delivering something from point A to point B, for example, delivering a package to the post office, or picking up an item from one business and taking it to another
  • Proofreading a document or an announcement
  • Making phone calls
  • Sending emails
  • Posting to the web site

Of course, we will still need members who volunteer more than 30 minutes of their time. Without their contribution, nothing would be possible. However, to help ease the strain on those dedicated few, and to help get fresh faces involved in the chapter, chapter leaders will increase the ranks of 30 minutes volunteers.

In addition to this new volunteering strategy, this year I would like our chapter to focus on a few items discussed at our chapter’s Vision Day on July 10.

First, I would like to improve the chapter’s mentoring program and increase participation. We can ask more people to become mentors and track the activity of those actively being mentored. Second, I would like to increase the amount of advertisements and press releases are distributed about our chapter events.

We can correspond with other professional societies, submitting more articles and announcements to local papers, and encourage members to distribute information throughout their organizations. And third, I would like to increase attendance at the monthly membership meetings. We can make topics more relevant and presenters more intriguing.

With these goals in mind and with the volunteer strategy in place, I hope to make the 2003-2004 year one of the best Carolina Chapter years ever.

Meredith Blackwelder is President of STC Carolina. She can be reached at mblackw at earthlink dot net. End of article.

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