Archive for December 2010

Retirement – Having the Time to Make an Impact

Having retired from IBM in March, I no longer have the time pressures of a demanding full time job. I have more flexibility to manage my time including the mix of working in my own consulting practice, traveling and volunteering to make the world a better place.

To me, one of my core values is to try to make the world a better place. I am excited that in December I have been given two great opportunities for that. First, I was elected President of the North Carolina Council of Churches, an organization of 18 denominations and several independent churches working to build unity and provide a safe space for dialogue across North Carolina, and to impact the lives of all North Carolinians through putting our faith into positive social justice actions. Here are articles from our local press and from the AP (Associated Press.)

Second, I was appointed by the Raleigh City Council to Raleigh’s Human Relations Commission, which is an advisory board appointed by the City Council to serve as an advocate for all people, regardless of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, economic status or age in pursuit of human and economic relationships. The Commission promotes activities, education and programs that enhance human dignity, equal opportunity, mutual respect and harmony among Raleigh citizens. Link.

Finally, in addition to community service within North Carolina, I have started the funding for the non-profit Global Roots to build a vocational training school, the Kimer-Kamba Vocational School, in Mtito Andei, one of the most impoverished cities in Kenya. You can read about it on this site: Africa Center.

A recent AARP magazine featured an article about the increasing number of American “baby-boomers” who are retiring from their first careers and ready and able to volunteer in community organizations as well as providing a well-trained motivated part time work force. As for me, I am looking to do both; serving in various organizations included those detailed above, and starting my own consulting practice where I aspire to make some extra income while providing valuable services for companies and organizations.

Photo: My partner Rich Roark interacting with the children at a school in Mtito Andei, Kenya

Making Volunteers Productive

Unproductive volunteers – perhaps as a result of poor planning

An executive director of a global non-profit approached me all excited; he has solicited for volunteers across the country who would donate their time and talent to his non-profit as part of a volunteer task force. He asked me assist him in structuring this task force. His first inclination was the get the 24 people into a huge teleconference and basically discuss what they all wanted to do. I stopped him in his tracks and suggested that we would end up with a free-for-all “group grope” with nothing getting done. I asked him to take a step back and work with me on a much more prescribed approach.

First, I asked him to succinctly describe the mission and objective of his non-profit.

Second, I asked him to define his roles and responsibilities as executive director and the roles and responsibilities of his board of directions.

Then third, I asked him to within the context of the first two items, define the types of ways he wants volunteers to assist. What kinds of things does he want them to do?

Fourth, I asked him to look through the resume information submitted by the volunteers to understand their particular gifts and talents, and how they match up with the tasks he wants assistance with.

Then I asked him to match smaller subsets of the 24 volunteers and their talents with the tasks he wants done.

Engaged Volunteers!


Now this executive director has a half a dozen small teams of volunteers working enthusiastically and productively on specific tasks he asked them each to do, and they are all making significant task contributions to the non-profit and are all enthused about how they are helping. And once a month we get all the small groups together to share in the contributions we are each making to the non-profit.

Bottom line – the way to most productively engage volunteers is to know what you need done in light of your mission and what other responsibilities are already assigned, match the needs you have to the background and talents of the volunteers, and then ask them do specific meaty projects that match their desires and talents.

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